How much coughing is normal?

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A new multiparametric device (RBC-7) was used for recording cough in ambulatory children over a 24 hour period. The number of coughs and the pattern of coughing can easily be studied with the aid of a personal computer and dedicated computer software. Forty one `normal' children were recorded, identified from a primary school with the aid of a questionnaire. They were free from any respiratory infection for one month, and had a normal examination and spirometry immediately before recording. Cough frequency was 11.3, range 1 to 34, cough episodes per 24 hours. This was unaffected by passive smoking or the presence of furry pets in the home. Nocturnal and prolonged coughing was unusual in these children. The device was highly acceptable to the children, and no adverse effects were reported. Such objective data on cough outside the laboratory setting are unique, help to determine what is normal, and may help in the diagnosis and assessment of many respiratory diseases.(Arch Dis Child 1996;74:531-534)

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