What’s in a Name? Don’t be Confused: Chronic Cough by Any Other Name is Still Chronic Cough

“What’s in a name?” asked William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.  And just as it is with a rose,  Chronic Cough can be referred to by other names, all of them mouthfuls:  Refractory Cough, Idiopathic Cough, or Unexplained Cough.  But, don’t be confused – it could still be Chronic Cough.

If you are coughing for eight (8) weeks or longer or have already seen a physician for your cough but are still coughing, then call Dr. Mandel Sher at Center for Cough now:  727-393-8067. 

Chronic Cough refers to anyone who is coughing for eight (8) weeks or longer.  Many coughers  continue to cough despite a medical work-up for conditions  such as post nasal drip, asthma, or GERD. The medical community refers to people who have Chronic Cough that persists in spite of medical intervention as:

  • Refractory Chronic Cough
  • Idiopathic Chronic Cough
  • Unexplained Chronic Cough

Different words for the same thing can be very confusing, slow down or get-in-the-way of  productive idea sharing, and create ambiguity.  Common vocabulary within the medical community is very important for “getting on the same page” and communicating about clinical practice guidelines, data collection, research, and education.

What’s going on in chronic coughers who are refractory/idiopathic/unexplained?  These coughers are almost always “hot wired” to cough.  Simply put, these coughers have the nerve endings at the back of the throat become easily stimulated and irritated resulting persistent, annoying and frequently debilitating coughing.

Common language and shared understanding are essential ingredients for creating a Chronic Cough Community.  The development of universal terms will be challenging, but the discussions are already underway.

Dr. Mandel Sher is leading a national conversation among doctors, scientists, and patients about Chronic Cough.  Please help Dr. Sher increase awareness of and advocacy for Chronic Cough treatment by visiting the Center for Cough website and Like and Share the Center for Cough facebook page.