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Respiratory Exam
 
Respiratory Exam
 

Assessing Cough

 
 
 
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Overview

The character of a patient's cough suggest of the cause of their respiratory illness.
  • How to Assess

  • Ask the patient to cough. Assess the character of the cough and whether it is productive of sputum.
  • Interpretation

  • Barking coughLaryngeal disease - croup
  • Brassy cough - loud, metallic barking soundsMajor airway inflammation
  • Paroxysms of ‘whoops’Whooping cough
  • ‘Bovine’ cough - weak, non-explosive coughVocal cord paralysis
  • Post-prandial coughReflux, aspiration
  • Causes of Cough

  • Acute

  • Infection - URTI, pneumonia, tuberculosis, whooping cough
  • Exacerbations - asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis
  • Foreign body aspiration
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Pulmonary embolus
  • Reflux
  • Subacute

  • Postnasal drip
  • Postinfectious cough
  • Reflux
  • Chronic

  • Obstructive disease - asthma, COPD
  • Reflux
  • Irritants - tobacco smoke, environmental pollutants
  • Medications - ACE inhibitors
  • Mechanical - tracheobronchomalacia, airway strictures
  • Interstitial disease - pulmonary fibrosis, pneumoconioses, sarcoidosis
  • Neoplasm - bronchial or parenchymal
  • Psychogenic - habit cough, tic cough
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