Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


In the United States, cough is the most common complaint for which patients seek medical attention and is the second most common reason for a general medical examination, accounting for more than 26 million office visits annually. Upper airway cough syndrome (UACS), asthma, and gastroesohageal reflux disease account for most chronic coughs after excluding smoking and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor use. A chronic cough is universally defined as a cough lasting longer than eight weeks. Many patients have more than one reason for chronic cough. Cough serves a potentially beneficial purpose by clearing the airways of excessive mucus, irritants, or abnormal substances such as fluid or pus. But while cough may serve a useful function, it can also lead to a variety of problems, including exhaustion, feeling self-conscious, insomnia, changes in lifestyle, musculoskeletal pain, hoarseness, excessive perspiration, and urinary incontinence. Cough is experienced differently by each individual, and the effect cough has on a person 's life is influenced by many factors. Diagnostic testing for chronic cough is to exclude disease entities. The initial priority for patients with cough lasting more than eight weeks is to identify a precipitant or etiology, and then to eliminate the precipitant or treat the underlying cause.