Speech and Language Therapy is evidence based, effective treatment for chronic refractory cough (medically unexplained persistent coughing for more than 8 weeks).
𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐬𝐲𝐦𝐩𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐬??
Initial assessment is very detailed and involves taking a medical, social and psychological history. Laryngoscopy is an examination of the voice box which rules out any laryngeal pathology and is often very reassuring for cough patients. Part of our role is to ensure all medical investigations for cough and medication checks are complete. Assessment will include patient rated outcome measures and symptom frequency and severity ratings.
Education is key to improving awareness and motivation for effective treatment. Speech therapy helps facilitate patients to control their cough.
Cough control strategies – various techniques for this. Teaching and modelling from SLT and lots of practice.
Throat care is vital to optimise hydration and comfort in the upper airway. Advice about acid reflux management, hydration, good inhaler technique, diet, sleep, lifestyle, voice use, posture might be included here.
Head and neck tension release – exercises and strategies for improving muscle tension balance in the neck and shoulders. This area of our bodies is prone to holding tension and its very muscular. Tension is common.
Voice Therapy techniques for easy, relaxed, resonant voice and optimal use of our instrument, particularly important for the professional voice user who is also coughing.
Taking a counselling approach to supporting patients. There is a link between anxiety and cough. Chronic cough can significantly impact on quality of life and cause distress, relationship problems and confidence issues. Even more so now during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Taking a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of chronic cough is gold standard. Physiotherapists are very often involved if there is a breathing pattern disorder or if the patient also has asthma, COPD or bronchiectasis. Having clinical psychology input is also helpful.