Childhood habit cough treated with self-hypnosis

J Pediatr. 2004 Feb;144(2):213-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2003.10.041.


Objectives: To better understand factors associated with the development and persistence of habit cough and to report use of self-hypnosis for this condition.

Study design: A retrospective chart review was performed for 56 children and adolescents with habit cough. Interested patients were instructed in self-hypnosis for relaxation and to help ignore the cough-triggering sensation.

Results: The patients' mean age was 10.7 years. The cough was triggered by upper respiratory infections in 59%, asthma in 13%, exercise in 5%, and eating in 4%. Onset of the cough occurred as early as 2 years, and its average duration was 13 months (range, 2 weeks to 7 years). There was a high incidence of abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome in the 50% of the patients who missed more than 1 week of school because of their cough. Among the 51 patients who used hypnosis, the cough resolved during or immediately after the initial hypnosis instruction session in 78% and within 1 month in an additional 12%.

Conclusions: Habit cough is triggered by various physiologic conditions, related frequently to other diagnoses, and it is associated with significant school absence. Self-hypnosis offers a safe efficient treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / complications
  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / psychology
  • Cough / therapy*
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Care*
  • Treatment Outcome