Global Physiology and Pathophysiology of Cough: Part 2. Demographic and Clinical Considerations: CHEST Expert Panel Report

Chest. 2021 Oct;160(4):1413-1423. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2021.04.039. Epub 2021 Apr 24.


Background: Cough characteristics vary between patients, and this can impact clinical diagnosis and care. The purpose of part two of this state-of-the-art review is to update the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) 2006 guideline on global physiology and pathophysiology of cough.

Study design and methods: A review of the literature was conducted using PubMed and MEDLINE databases from 1951 to 2019 using prespecified search terms.

Results: We describe the demographics of typical patients with cough in the clinical setting, including how cough characteristics change across age. We summarize the effect of common clinical conditions impacting cough mechanics and the physical properties of mucus on airway clearance.

Interpretation: This is the second of a two-part update to the 2006 CHEST cough guideline; it complements part one on basic phenomenology of cough by providing an extended clinical picture of cough along with the factors that alter cough mechanics and efficiency in patients. A greater understanding of the physiology and pathophysiology of cough will improve clinical management.

Keywords: airway clearance; cough; demographics; mucus; pathophysiology; physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / epidemiology*
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mucociliary Clearance / physiology*
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / complications
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Sex Factors