Maximum voluntary cough: an indication of airway function

Bull Eur Physiopathol Respir. 1987 Sep-Oct;23(5):465-72.


Maximum voluntary coughing produces a flow-volume profile which incorporates the characteristics of a maximum expiratory flow-volume curve (MEFV). The cough flow-volume curve also has transient spikes of supramaximal flow, interspersed with portions of zero flow when the glottis is closed. The peak flow rates of the supramaximal flow transients during cough decrease in a linear fashion as lung volume goes down from total lung capacity to residual volume. Cough flow-volume curves have been recorded from forty-two subjects between the ages of 7 and 56 yr. The rate of change of cough peak flow shows a positive correlation with airway conductance measured plethysmographically in children. The ratio of forced expiratory flow to cough peak flow (the cough ratio) expresses the maximum expiratory flow rate during forced expiration as a proportion of that which can be achieved with a cough. The cough ratio declines during adult life, because although there is a fall in cough peak flow with age there is a proportionally greater fall in MEFV-equivalent flow. These investigations explore the information to be gained from cough flow-volume curves by examining the cough in a heterogeneous group of individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Cough / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Ventilation*