Cough suppression therapy: does it work?

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;26(5):524-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2013.03.012. Epub 2013 Mar 21.


Cough suppression therapy (CST), also known as cough suppression physiotherapy and speech pathology management is a promising non-pharmacological therapeutic option for patients with refractory chronic cough. CST may consist of education, improving laryngeal hygiene and hydration, cough suppression techniques, breathing exercises and counselling. It is an out-patient therapy delivered in 2-4 sessions. There is evidence to support the efficacy of CST: a randomised controlled trial reported a significant reduction in cough symptoms and other studies have reported improved cough related quality of life, reduced cough reflex hypersensitivity and cough frequency. The mechanism of action of CST is not clear, but it has been shown to reduce cough reflex sensitivity, paradoxical vocal fold movement (PVFM) and extrathoracic hyperresponsiveness. Further research is needed to determine the optimal components of CST, the characteristics of patients in whom it is most effective and to increase the understanding of its mechanisms of action. The effectiveness of CST in other respiratory conditions such as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sarcoidosis should also be investigated.

Keywords: Chronic cough; Cough suppression; Idiopathic chronic cough; Physiotherapy; Refractory chronic cough; Speech and language therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / methods
  • Breathing Exercises / methods
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / therapy*
  • Counseling / methods
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Quality of Life
  • Speech Therapy / methods
  • Speech-Language Pathology