Notes on Cough Reflex

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What is a cough?

A cough is defined as a sequence of events initiated by the sensitivity of the lining of the airways and mediated by the medulla as a consequence of the impulses transmitted over the vagus nerve resulting in coughing clearing of foreign particles in airways.

Mechanism of a cough:

• Caused by irritant receptor stimulation.

• Stretch receptors serve regulator function.

• Irritant receptors and C-fiber receptor neurons sense stimulus.

• These C-fibres participate in intrabronchal axon-reflex that releases neuropeptides in the bronchial submucosa and causes localized vasodilatation and increase in leakiness.

What is sneezing?

It should be noted that sneezing is spasmodic contraction of muscles of exhalation that forcefully expel air through the nose and mouth. Irritants in he nasal passageways cause impulses to travel via cranial nerve V to the medulla where the reflex is triggered. The glottis is kept open, uvula is depressed and a large amount of air passes through the nose.

Role of glottis in coughing:

Complete closure of rima glottidis occurs during coughing.

Inhibition of cough:

Cough can be inhibited by suppressing the activity of cough receptors, i.e., reducing the sensation of local nerves.

Additional Reading:

Basic Neurology

1. Peripheral Nervous System
2. Central Nervous System
3. The Ventricular System
4. The Spinal Cord
5. The Brain Stem
6. The Cerebellum
7. Visual Pathways
8. Diencephalon
9. Basal Ganglia
10. Cerebral Cortex
11. Sleep Disorders
12. Autonomic Nervous System
13. Cranial Nerves and Parasympathetic Ganglia
14. Cells of the Nervous System
15. Cerebrospinal fluid
16. Additional short notes on Cerebrum
17. Functions and Diseases of Cerebrum
18. Subcortical Grey Matter
19. Notes on The Spinal Cord
20. Regulation of Heart Rate by Autonomic Nervous System
21. Action Potentials, Axon Conduction, and Neuromuscular Junction
22. Types of Seizures
23. What is a Cough Reflex?
24. Notes on Congenital Prosopagnosia
25. Findings in Parkinson's Disease
26. Types of Heat Strokes
27. Types of Strokes
28. What is Benign Intracranial Hypertension?
29. What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
30. Cranial Nerve Locations in Brain Stem

Neurology Videos

1. Video of Neurology Examination in a Clinical Setting

Medical Images

Useful Medical Images & Diagrams (link opens in a new window)

Related Topics

1. Nervous System Disorders
2. Histology of Nervous Tissue
3. Cranial Nerve Reflexes
4. Motor System Examination

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