Chronic cough – How can a Speech Pathologist help?

Having a chronic cough can result in stress urinary incontinence, headaches, poor sleep and be a barrier to socialization and working, and greatly impact on someone’s mental health. Since the emergence of COVID-19, this social and emotional impact has worsened due to the stigma around coughing.

Coughing is a protective action that allows us to clear our throat or lungs to prevent infection or foreign objects from entering our airways.

However, sometimes coughing is not always necessary as there is nothing there to clear but it can become an automatic reaction to environmental changes such as a strong smell, temperature change, talking or exercise.

Many people only seek Speech Pathology intervention after having had a chronic cough for years. Why do they wait years? Normally because they haven’t been referred and many doctors don’t know that we work in this area!

Most people who come to see us have had multiple diagnostic tests and have seen numerous specialists. However, most of the time none of the medication that they have tried has made a difference!

Speech Pathology has a role to play in treating chronic cough for people who have exhausted all medical treatment for their condition.

As Speech Pathologists, we can help you take control of your chronic cough or throat clearing as it can damage your voice and have a significant impact on your life!

Signs and symptoms:

  • A chronic cough lasts for longer than 8 weeks.
  • Coughing that is exacerbated by exercise, strong smells, temperature change, talking etc.
  • Changes to the voice.

Our intervention includes 4 components:

  1. Education about possible causes, irritants & how the program works.
  2. Exercises to improve voluntary control over cough and cough suppression techniques.
  3. Reduction of laryngeal irritation, including voice care training and ways to minimise damage to the vocal folds.
  4. Counselling

There is strong research showing the positive impact that Speech Pathology intervention can have on decreasing symptoms of chronic cough. Our role in managing chronic cough is becoming more and more widely supported by a range of health professionals and their governing bodies.

Talk to your GP to discuss whether Speech Pathology intervention is right for you! Alternatively, if you have a chronic cough and want to know more, please contact Adult Speech Therapy on 0466592104 or

Reference: Speech Pathology Management of Chronic Refractory Cough and related disorders (textbook) – Anne Vertigan and Peter Gibson

Adult Speech Therapy
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We are registered NDIS providers and help NDIS participants achieve amazing outcomes for a range of speech related conditions.