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Open Access Review

The oesophagus and cough: laryngo-pharyngeal reflux, microaspiration and vagal reflexes

Jaclyn A Smith12* and Lesley A Houghton12

Author Affiliations

1 Respiratory and Allergy Centre, The University of Manchester, University Hospital of South Manchester, Manchester, UK

2 Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Florida, USA

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Cough 2013, 9:12  doi:10.1186/1745-9974-9-12

Published: 16 April 2013

Abstract

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease is generally considered to be one of the commonest causes of chronic cough, however randomised controlled trials of proton pump inhibitors have often failed to support this notion. This article reviews the most recent studies investigating the mechanisms thought to link reflux and cough, namely laryngo-pharyngeal reflux, micro-aspiration and neuronal cross-organ sensitisation. How recent evidence might shed light on the failure of acid suppressing therapies and suggest new approaches to treating reflux related cough are also discussed.