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August 12, 1961


JAMA. 1961;177(6):445-446. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040320089009

Cough is a faithful watchdog, ever present to serve and protect the pulmonary system. Its primary job is to facilitate bronchial catharsis— boost from the depths, and along the way, substances that might interfere with air flow or gas exchange and lead to chronic disabling disease. Cough can be life saving, too, in dealing with large accumulations of pus, notably in pulmonary abscess, bronchiectasis and tuberculosis. Nevertheless, cough may be harmful.

Hard, uncontrolled cough becomes a "wild boar" —damaging and harassing, notably for delicate alveoli and bronchioli plagued with disease. It drives inspissated material peripherally into normal areas, causes pressure disturbances, and favors bullous formation and atelectasis; it can spread infection to the 4 winds. An additional disturbance or danger is cough syncope.

The syndrome first described by Charcot in 1876 was considered until recently a rare form of fainting. In a series of stimulating reports, a surprising frequency is

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