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February 16, 1952


JAMA. 1952;148(7):501-504. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.02930070001001

Cough is one of the most frequent symptoms for which the patient seeks medical attention. Although cough can be produced voluntarily, it is, in its spontaneous form, a reflex function of the body. Its purpose is the removal of accumulated mucus, inflammatory exudates, products of circulatory stagnation, extravasated blood, or foreign bodies from the respiratory tract and to rid the body of irritation of any sort originating in the air passages. Its most frequent sources are diseases of the lung, the throat, and the heart. For the intelligent and efficient treatment of cough, it is mandatory to search for its cause and institute appropriate measures accordingly. The multiplicity of lesions that may elicit cough should be recognized. Pathological changes in any part of the respiratory system, whether of mechanical, toxic, infectious, allergic, neoplastic, or other origin, may provoke cough.

It is reasonable to assume that the forces of coughing are