Acoustic cough-reflux associations in chronic cough: Potential triggers and mechanisms

Jaclyn A. Smith, Samantha Decalmer, Angela Kelsall, Kevin McGuinness, Helen Jones, Simon Galloway, Ashley Woodcock, Lesley A. Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Central sensitization is thought to play a role in chronic cough and might explain the temporal association between cough and gastroesophageal reflux (GOR) in patients in whom non-GOR causes have been excluded. Using our novel simultaneous acoustic cough recording and impedance/pH monitoring technique, we aimed to explore this further by assessing such temporal associations and their relationship to the acidity, duration, and proximal extent of reflux and the presence of erosive disease and cough reflex sensitivity in unselected patients (ie, including non-GOR causes) with chronic cough. Methods: Twenty-four hour ambulatory acoustic cough monitoring with simultaneous impedance/pH recording was carried out in 71 unselected patients with chronic cough, aged 5164 years (47 female). In addition, all patients underwent cough reflex sensitivity testing to citric acid, and 66 patients underwent gastroscopy. Temporal associations between cough and reflux were expressed using the symptom association probability. Results: Seventy percent of patients exhibited temporal associations, with 48% having a positive symptom association probability (SAPR-C) for cough preceded by reflux (mainly distal), 56% a positive symptom association probability (SAP C-R (2 min)) for reflux preceded by cough, and 32% both. Moreover, SAPR-C positive patients had a more sensitive cough reflex (P = .03) but similar esophageal reflux exposure and erosive disease, together with similar prevalence of extraesophageal causes of cough compared with SAP R-C negative patients. Reflux immediately following cough was rare. Conclusions: Cough temporally associates with reflux irrespective of proposed diagnoses, may be self-perpetuating in some patients, and is likely to be driven by central processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-762
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Cough
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux
  • Impedance/Ph Monitoring
  • Symptom Association Probability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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