The Clinical Value of Deflation Cough in Chronic Coughers With Reflux Symptoms

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Patients with deflation cough (DC), the cough-like expulsive effort(s) evoked by maximal lung emptying during a slow vital capacity maneuver, also present symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux. DC can be inhibited by prior intake of antacids. We wished to assess DC prevalence and association between DC and chemical characteristics of refluxate in patients with gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.


A total of 157 consecutive outpatients underwent DC assessment and 24-h multichannel intraluminal impedance pH (MII-pH) monitoring; 93/157 also had chronic cough. Patients performed two to four slow vital capacity maneuvers and DC was detected aurally. Subsequently, they underwent 24-h MII-pH monitoring, the outcomes of which were defined as abnormal when acid or non-acid reflux events were > 73.


DC occurred in 46/157 patients, 18 of whom had abnormal MII-pH outcomes; 28 of the remaining 111 patients without DC also had abnormal MII-pH findings. Thus, in the patients as a group, there was no association between DC and MII-pH outcomes. DC occurred in 40/93 of the chronic coughers; 15 of whom had acid reflux. All but 2 of the 53 patients without DC had normal MII-pH outcomes (P < .001), and the negative predictive value of DC for excluding acid reflux was 96.2%. At follow-up, 65% of coughers showed significant improvement after treatment.


The overall prevalence of DC was 29%, increasing to 43% in chronic coughers in whom the absence of DC virtually excludes acid reflux. Therefore, DC assessment may represent a useful screening test for excluding acid reflux in chronic coughers with reflux symptoms.

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