Cough is primarily a physiologic act, protective in character. Under pathologic circumstances it occurs as a symptom of local or general disease conditions and may be of mechanical or reflex origin. It is essentially a quick and forcible expiratory effort or series of such efforts performed with partial closure of the glottis, and is usually preceded by one or more deep inspirations. When a foreign body or other irritant comes in contact with the peripheral fibers of the vagus nerve, or of those nerves with which it is intimately connected, impulses travel along the afferent fibers to the respiratory center of the medulla. In the ganglion cells of this center the impulses are translated into others which are conducted through the efferent fibers of certain cerebral and spinal nerves to the muscles of respiration, whose force they liberate.
Cough has for its object the removal from the air passages of
SILCOX LE. A NEW DRUG FOR THE CONTROL OF COUGH. Arch Otolaryngol. 1948;47(6):822–824. doi:10.1001/archotol.1948.00690030849012
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