Measurement of Cough Aerodynamics in Healthy Adults

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Cough is a critical human reflex and also among the most frequent symptoms in medicine. Despite the prevalence of disordered cough in laryngeal pathologies, comprehensive and quantitative evaluation of cough in these patients is lacking.


Herein we seek to establish normative values for cough aerodynamics to provide a population standard for reference in future studies.

Design, Setting, and Participants:

Healthy subjects were recruited from an outpatient clinic to perform voluntary cough. Subjects were instructed on the technique for maximal voluntary cough production with measurements recorded on pneumotachograph. Fifty-two subjects were studied, including 29 women and 23 men with a mean age of 51.6 and 52.3 years, respectively.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Cough peak airflow, peak pressure, and expiratory rise time. Results were stratified by age, gender, and height.


Peak airflow demonstrated significant differences across age, gender, and height, with flow increasing according to increasing height. Peak cough pressure also increased with height and was significantly greater in males versus females. Expiratory rise time, the time from glottal opening to peak airflow, did not vary with age or height but was statistically significantly longer in women.


Cough aerodynamics can be readily measured objectively in the outpatient setting. Expiratory rise time, peak flow, and peak pressure are important aspects of each cough epoch. Normative data provided herein can be used for future studies of patients with laryngotracheal disorders, and these cough parameters may prove to be simple, accessible, and repeatable outcome measures.

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