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Mon 1 Jan 2007 02:50 PM

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Speech pathology therapy curbs chronic cough

Speech pathology interventions can be effective for patients with chronic cough, according to trial findings published in December's Thorax.

Speech pathology interventions can be effective for patients with chronic cough, according to trial findings published in December's Thorax.

Anne E. Vertigan from the University of Queensland, Australia, and colleagues investigated the efficacy of a specifically designed speech pathology management program in a controlled trial involving 87 patients with chronic cough that persisted despite medical treatment.

Active treatment consisted of four components: education about the nature of chronic cough, counselling, ways to control cough, and vocal hygiene to reduce laryngeal irritation. A placebo intervention focused on healthy lifestyle education.

The improvement in symptom scores was significantly greater in the group receiving speech pathology treatment than in the group assigned to the placebo intervention, the team reports, with participants in the treatment group experiencing significant reductions in all individual symptoms.

Patients in the treatment group also experienced significantly greater improvements in limitation scores, the results indicate, although the placebo group also experienced some improvement.

Thirty-eight of 43 active treatment participants had successful outcomes, the researchers note, compared with only 6 of 44 placebo group participants.

"Speech pathology treatment has the potential to provide symptomatic relief in individuals whose cough cannot be helped through medical means," Vertigan said. "It is essential that patients are well motivated and willing to see that their cough is something they do in response to laryngeal irritation rather than something that happens to them that is beyond their control."

The team is "interested in investigating the mechanisms behind the effectiveness of the intervention," Vertigan concluded.

"For example, is there a change in cough reflex sensitivity following treatment, or is voluntary control improved, or is there less extrathoracic airway hyperresponsiveness?"

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