Cough:
Defense Mechanism and
Symptom
Karen A. Fagan, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Ca...
Disclosure
• No financial relationships relevant to this
presentation or content
• Any off label use of medications will b...
Objectives
• Understand the function and physiological
mechanisms of cough.
• Classify cough according to its duration.
• ...
Case Study- D.B.
47 y/o Caucasian woman, accountant, c/o cough for
3 years. 30 pack-year smoking history, quit in
2001. Tr...
Case Study- D.B.
• Review of Systems:
+ Mildly hoarse
+ Several sinus infections since 2002
- Heartburn, regurgitation
- C...
Cough is #1
• The #1 chief complaint in primary care
physicians’ offices is cough
• Most-- but not all-- cough seen by PCP...
Cough: What’s it good for?
• Attract attention
• Signal displeasure
• Protect the airway from pathogens,
particulates, foo...
Cough: Public Health Concern
Cough Reflex: Afferent Pathway
• Vagus nerve is major
afferent pathway
• Stimuli arise from:
– Ear
– Pharynx
– Larynx
– Lu...
Cough Reflex: Afferent Pathway
Mechanical stimuli:
– Rapidly adapting receptors
(RARs)
– Slowly adapting stretch
receptors...
Efferent Pathway: 4 Phases
1. Inspiratory Phase
2. Compressive
Phase
3. Expiratory Phase
4. Relaxation Phase
Impaired Cough: Who’s at risk?
• Interruption of afferent and/or efferent pathways of
cough reflex impairs cough
• Altered...
Impaired Cough: Consequences
• Aspiration of oropharyngeal
or stomach contents
(bacteria, food, other)
• Acute airway obst...
Complications of Cough
Complications of Cough
• Result primarily from marked increase
in intrathoracic pressure (> 300 mmHg)
during cough
• Affec...
Complications of Cough
• Scares away big game!
www.biggameproshop.com
“The Silencer is a real hunt
saver for:
Spontaneous ...
American College
of Physicians 2006
Cough Guidelines
• Evidence-based
• Includes guidelines for
pediatric cough
• Should b...
Acute Cough in Adults
Key questions:
1. Is it life-threatening?
2. Are antibiotics needed?
Cough lasting less than 3 weeks
Acute Cough
Life-threatening Dx Non-life-threatening Dx
History,
Examination,
Investigations
Pneumonia, severe
exacerbatio...
Acute Cough: Life-Threatening
• Congestive heart
failure
• Pneumonia
• Asthma Exac.
• COPD Exac.
• Pulmonary
Embolism
• Ot...
Acute Cough: Non-Life-Threatening
• Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI or
URI)-- “The Common Cold”
– Caused by viruse...
Acute Cough: Non-Life-Threatening
• Lower respiratory tract infection-- “Acute
Bronchitis”
– Cough, with or without phlegm...
Acute Cough: Non-Life-Threatening
• Exacerbation of pre-existing condition
– COPD: always consider bacterial infection
– A...
Subacute Cough in Adults
Key questions:
1. Is it post-infectious?
2. If post-infectious, are antibiotics needed?
Cough las...
Subacute Cough
Post-infectious Non-postinfectious
History and
Physical Exam
Pertussis
Pneumonia and
other serious
diseases...
Subacute
Cough:
Pneumonia
Chronic Cough in Adults
• Cough lasting longer than 8 weeks
• Top 4 in immunocompetent patient with normal
CXR:
– Upper ai...
Upper Airway Cough Syndrome
(UACS)
• Also called “Post-nasal drip
syndrome” (PNDS)
• Mechanism: secretions from
nose/sinus...
Upper Airway Cough Syndrome
(UACS)
• Signs (may be absent): inflamed nasal
mucosa, secretions in posterior
oropharynx
• Co...
Asthma
• Mechanism: inflammatory mediators, mucus,
bronchoconstriction stimulate cough receptors
• Classic symptoms: inter...
Asthma
• Diagnostic tests:
– Spirometry, before and after
bronchodilator: partially
reversible airflow obstruction
– Metha...
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
A Vicious Cycle
COUGH
REFLUX INCREASED
ABDOMINAL
PRESSURE
Gastroesophageal Reflux
Disease (GERD)
• Classic symptoms: heartburn,
sour taste in mouth
• Cough may be only symptom in
7...
Gastroesophageal Reflux
Disease (GERD)
• Diagnostic/Therapeutic trial: gastric acid
suppression with proton pump inhibitor...
Non-Asthmatic Eosinophilic
Bronchitis (NAEB)
• Eosinophilic airway inflammation WITHOUT
variable airflow obstruction or ai...
A) Prescribe a 1st generation
antihistamine/decongestant
B) Prescribe an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma
C) Order an ind...
All that coughs is not UACS,
asthma, GERD, or NAEB!
ACE-inhibitor therapy
• Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)
inhibitors (enalapril, captopril, lisinopril,
ramipril, etc.)
...
Continued on next slide…
Chronic Cough, continued:
Bronchiectasis
Chronic Aspiration, Resulting in Bronchiectasis
Bronchiectasis in patient with
Common Variable Immunoglobulin Deficiency
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Subglottic Stenosis
Subglottic Stenosis
Case Study- D.B.
47 y/o Caucasian woman, accountant, c/o cough for
3 years. 30 pack-year smoking history, quit in
2001. Tr...
Case Study- D.B.
• Diagnostic Test Data:
– PFTs: consistent with asthma
– Methacholine challenge: positive
– CXR / Chest C...
Case Study- D.B.
• Diagnosis: Chronic cough related to
asthma, early COPD, GERD
• Treatment: inhaled
corticosteroid/bronch...
Esther Langmack, MD
“cough” specialist
Cough in Adults
Cough in Adults
Cough in Adults
Cough in Adults
Cough in Adults
Cough in Adults
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Cough in Adults

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Cough in Adults

  1. 1. Cough: Defense Mechanism and Symptom Karen A. Fagan, MD Associate Professor of Medicine Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine John and Alice Chair of Pulmonary Medicine University of South Alabama
  2. 2. Disclosure • No financial relationships relevant to this presentation or content • Any off label use of medications will be identified during the lecture
  3. 3. Objectives • Understand the function and physiological mechanisms of cough. • Classify cough according to its duration. • Know the most common causes of acute cough in adults. • Know the symptoms, signs, and empiric treatment for the 4 most common causes of chronic cough in adults.
  4. 4. Case Study- D.B. 47 y/o Caucasian woman, accountant, c/o cough for 3 years. 30 pack-year smoking history, quit in 2001. Traveled to China to adopt baby girl in 2002, caught “bad chest cold”. Recovered, but had “bronchitis” (phlegm, cough) 8 times/year≥ thereafter. Episodes of “bronchitis” start suddenly, with a sore throat. Antibiotics and prednisone reduce symptoms, but incompletely. Coughs day and night. Told “you’re just getting a lot of colds from your daughter”. Frustrated. Worried about “weird infection.” Demoted at work because of days missed due to illness.
  5. 5. Case Study- D.B. • Review of Systems: + Mildly hoarse + Several sinus infections since 2002 - Heartburn, regurgitation - Cardiac disease - Neuromuscular disease • Physical Exam: Normal vital signs Looks depressed Otherwise, normal
  6. 6. Cough is #1 • The #1 chief complaint in primary care physicians’ offices is cough • Most-- but not all-- cough seen by PCP’s is acute cough related to viral upper and lower respiratory tract infections • Chronic cough is one of the most common reasons for consultation with a pulmonologist • Health care costs for cough exceed several billion dollars annually
  7. 7. Cough: What’s it good for? • Attract attention • Signal displeasure • Protect the airway from pathogens, particulates, food, other foreign bodies • Clear the airways of accumulated secretions, particles
  8. 8. Cough: Public Health Concern
  9. 9. Cough Reflex: Afferent Pathway • Vagus nerve is major afferent pathway • Stimuli arise from: – Ear – Pharynx – Larynx – Lungs – Tracheobronchial tree – Heart – Pericardium – Esophagus
  10. 10. Cough Reflex: Afferent Pathway Mechanical stimuli: – Rapidly adapting receptors (RARs) – Slowly adapting stretch receptors (SARs) Chemical stimuli: –C-fibers
  11. 11. Efferent Pathway: 4 Phases 1. Inspiratory Phase 2. Compressive Phase 3. Expiratory Phase 4. Relaxation Phase
  12. 12. Impaired Cough: Who’s at risk? • Interruption of afferent and/or efferent pathways of cough reflex impairs cough • Altered sensorium- anesthesia, narcotics, sedatives, alcohol, coma, stroke, seizure, SLEEP • Laryngeal/ upper airway disorders • Tracheostomy tube • Restrictive and obstructive lung diseases • Neuromuscular diseases • Supine in hospital bed
  13. 13. Impaired Cough: Consequences • Aspiration of oropharyngeal or stomach contents (bacteria, food, other) • Acute airway obstruction • Pneumonia • Lung abscess • Respiratory failure/ ARDS • Bronchiectasis • Pulmonary fibrosis
  14. 14. Complications of Cough
  15. 15. Complications of Cough • Result primarily from marked increase in intrathoracic pressure (> 300 mmHg) during cough • Affect nearly every other organ system • See Table 1 (handout) for PARTIAL list • Disruption of surgical wounds • Negative impact on quality of life, particularly in chronic cough
  16. 16. Complications of Cough • Scares away big game! www.biggameproshop.com “The Silencer is a real hunt saver for: Spontaneous morning coughs Cold Flu and Allergy sufferers Asthma suffers Those on high blood pressure medications Excellent for Smoker's cough”
  17. 17. American College of Physicians 2006 Cough Guidelines • Evidence-based • Includes guidelines for pediatric cough • Should be used in conjunction with “clinical judgment” • Divides cough in adults by duration: acute, subacute, chronic
  18. 18. Acute Cough in Adults Key questions: 1. Is it life-threatening? 2. Are antibiotics needed? Cough lasting less than 3 weeks
  19. 19. Acute Cough Life-threatening Dx Non-life-threatening Dx History, Examination, Investigations Pneumonia, severe exacerbation of asthma or COPD, PE, Heart Failure, other serious disease Infectious Exacerbation of pre-existing condition Environmental or Occupational URTI LRTI Asthma Bronchiectasis UACS COPD Figure 1: The acute cough algorithm for the management of patients aged ≥ 15 years with cough lasting < 3 weeks. For diagnosis and treatment recommendations refer to the section indicated in the algorithm. PE = pulmonary embolism; Dx = diagnosis; Rx = treatment. For other abbreviations, see handout.
  20. 20. Acute Cough: Life-Threatening • Congestive heart failure • Pneumonia • Asthma Exac. • COPD Exac. • Pulmonary Embolism • Other
  21. 21. Acute Cough: Non-Life-Threatening • Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI or URI)-- “The Common Cold” – Caused by viruses, e.g. rhinoviruses – Nasal congestion, drainage – Post-nasal drainage irritates larynx – Inflammatory mediators increase sensitivity of sensory afferents – Antibiotics are NOT indicated – Decongestants, cough suppressants of questionable value
  22. 22. Acute Cough: Non-Life-Threatening • Lower respiratory tract infection-- “Acute Bronchitis” – Cough, with or without phlegm – Most bronchitis in otherwise healthy adults is caused by viruses (rhinovirus, adenovirus, RSV) – If it’s likely viral in origin, do not prescribe antibiotics – Bacterial causes to consider: • Mycoplasma pneumoniae, chlamydophila pneumoniae • Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) – Make sure it’s not pneumonia
  23. 23. Acute Cough: Non-Life-Threatening • Exacerbation of pre-existing condition – COPD: always consider bacterial infection – Asthma: try to identify the underlying cause (exposure, viral URTI, viral LRTI, other) – Bronchiectasis: always consider bacterial infection (gram negative rods, staph. aureus, organisms resistant to antibiotics) – Upper airway cough syndrome (UACS) • Environmental or occupational exposure: allergens, irritants
  24. 24. Subacute Cough in Adults Key questions: 1. Is it post-infectious? 2. If post-infectious, are antibiotics needed? Cough lasting 3-8 weeks
  25. 25. Subacute Cough Post-infectious Non-postinfectious History and Physical Exam Pertussis Pneumonia and other serious diseases New onset or exacerbation of pre- existing condition Workup same as chronic cough AECBNAEB Asthma BronchitisUACS GERD Figure 2: Subacute cough algorithm for the management of patients aged ≥ 15 years with cough lasting 3 to 8 weeks. For diagnosis and treatment recommendations refer to section indicated in algorithm. AECB = acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis. For other abbreviations, please see syllabus. Bronchitis
  26. 26. Subacute Cough: Pneumonia
  27. 27. Chronic Cough in Adults • Cough lasting longer than 8 weeks • Top 4 in immunocompetent patient with normal CXR: – Upper airway cough syndrome – Asthma – Gastroesophageal reflux disease – Non-asthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis • Cough may have more than one cause-- a diagnostic challenge!
  28. 28. Upper Airway Cough Syndrome (UACS) • Also called “Post-nasal drip syndrome” (PNDS) • Mechanism: secretions from nose/sinuses stimulate upper airway cough receptors; inflammation increases receptor sensitivity • Classic symptoms: “tickle” in throat; throat clearing, hoarseness, nasal congestion • Cough may be the only symptom in ~ 20%
  29. 29. Upper Airway Cough Syndrome (UACS) • Signs (may be absent): inflamed nasal mucosa, secretions in posterior oropharynx • Consider underlying causes: allergies, chronic sinusitis, overuse of alpha-agonist nasal sprays • Diagnostic/Therapeutic trial: 1st generation anti-histamine/decongestant combination medication for 2 weeks
  30. 30. Asthma • Mechanism: inflammatory mediators, mucus, bronchoconstriction stimulate cough receptors • Classic symptoms: intermittent wheeze • Cough may be the only symptom in 7-57% patients (depends on study)-- “Cough-variant asthma” • Signs (often absent): expiratory wheezing on chest exam
  31. 31. Asthma • Diagnostic tests: – Spirometry, before and after bronchodilator: partially reversible airflow obstruction – Methacholine inhalation challenge: positive •Diagnostic/ Therapeutic trial: inhaled corticosteroid + bronchodilator for ≥ 8 weeks
  32. 32. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  33. 33. A Vicious Cycle COUGH REFLUX INCREASED ABDOMINAL PRESSURE
  34. 34. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) • Classic symptoms: heartburn, sour taste in mouth • Cough may be only symptom in 75% patients with chronic cough • Diagnostic tests: – 24-hour esophageal pH probe (best) – Esophagram
  35. 35. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) • Diagnostic/Therapeutic trial: gastric acid suppression with proton pump inhibitor (e.g. omeprazole) for 2 months,≥ combined with diet and lifestyle modification
  36. 36. Non-Asthmatic Eosinophilic Bronchitis (NAEB) • Eosinophilic airway inflammation WITHOUT variable airflow obstruction or airway hyperresponsiveness • Diagnostic tests: - Spirometry: normal - Methacholine challenge: - normal - Induced sputum: >3% eosinophils • Diagnostic/Therapeutic trial: inhaled corticosteroid for 4≥ weeks
  37. 37. A) Prescribe a 1st generation antihistamine/decongestant B) Prescribe an inhaled corticosteroid for asthma C) Order an induced sputum to look for eosinophils D) Order a chest x-ray E) All of the above A 67 y/o man, life-long non-smoker, complains of 12 weeks of non-productive cough. He’s had a couple of “colds” this winter. He has no current nasal or sinus symptoms, rarely has heartburn, and never wheezes. He’s on no meds. Vitals and physical exam are normal. Your next step would be: Case Study: C.F
  38. 38. All that coughs is not UACS, asthma, GERD, or NAEB!
  39. 39. ACE-inhibitor therapy • Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (enalapril, captopril, lisinopril, ramipril, etc.) • Dry cough in 3-30% patients • Begins 1 week to 6 months after drug started • Usually resolves 1-7 days after stopping therapy, but can take 4 weeks
  40. 40. Continued on next slide…
  41. 41. Chronic Cough, continued:
  42. 42. Bronchiectasis
  43. 43. Chronic Aspiration, Resulting in Bronchiectasis
  44. 44. Bronchiectasis in patient with Common Variable Immunoglobulin Deficiency
  45. 45. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  46. 46. Subglottic Stenosis
  47. 47. Subglottic Stenosis
  48. 48. Case Study- D.B. 47 y/o Caucasian woman, accountant, c/o cough for 3 years. 30 pack-year smoking history, quit in 2001. Traveled to China to adopt baby girl in 2002, caught “bad chest cold”. Recovered, but had “bronchitis” (phlegm, cough) 8 times/year≥ thereafter. Episodes of “bronchitis” start suddenly, with a sore throat. Antibiotics and prednisone reduce symptoms, but incompletely. Coughs day and night. Told “you’re just getting a lot of colds from your daughter”. Frustrated. Worried about “weird infection.” Demoted at work because of days missed due to illness.
  49. 49. Case Study- D.B. • Diagnostic Test Data: – PFTs: consistent with asthma – Methacholine challenge: positive – CXR / Chest CT: mild emphysema – Sinus CT: normal – pH probe: couldn’t place-- too much coughing – Esophagram: severe GERD – Laryngoscopy: interarytenoid erythema, c/w reflux – PPD: negative
  50. 50. Case Study- D.B. • Diagnosis: Chronic cough related to asthma, early COPD, GERD • Treatment: inhaled corticosteroid/bronchodilator, proton pump inhibitor • Outcome: at 2 months, cough significantly better, no urgent visits to PCP for cough, no need for corticosteroids or antibiotics
  51. 51. Esther Langmack, MD “cough” specialist
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