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Psychogenic Cough: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Psychogenic Cough, also known as habit cough or tic cough, is a unique medical issue that can puzzle both patients and doctors. Unlike usual coughs from things like colds or allergies, psychogenic cough comes from feelings or emotions. It’s not very common, but it can really change how someone lives. Treating psychogenic cough needs a careful plan to figure out what’s causing it and how to help.

What is Psychogenic Cough?

Psychogenic cough is like when someone coughs a lot, but they’re not sick. For example, imagine a student who starts coughing every time they have to give a presentation in class. Even though they’re not actually sick, they can’t stop coughing because they feel nervous or anxious. That’s an example of psychogenic cough—it’s caused by how they’re feeling, not by a physical problem like a cold.

Causes of Psychogenic Cough

Here are the causes of psychogenic cough explained:

  1. Feeling Stressed or Worried: When someone feels really stressed or worried, it can make them cough, even if they’re not sick.
  2. Remembering Bad Experiences: If something scary or bad happened to someone in the past related to coughing, they might start coughing a lot when they feel scared or nervous.
  3. Wanting Attention: Sometimes, people cough a lot because they want people to pay attention to them. They might do it without realizing it.
  4. Feeling Sad or Upset: If someone has gone through something really sad or upsetting, it can make them cough, even if there’s nothing wrong with their body.
  5. Getting Used to Coughing: Some people cough so much that it becomes a habit. They might do it without thinking, especially if they’ve been doing it for a long time.

Psychogenic Cough

Symptoms of Psychogenic Cough

  1. Lots of Coughing: People with psychogenic cough cough a lot, for weeks or even months, even though there’s no clear reason for it.
  2. No Other Sick Feelings: Unlike when you catch a cold or have allergies, they don’t have things like a fever or a stuffy nose with this cough.
  3. Certain Situations Make It Worse: Sometimes, they cough more when they’re feeling stressed, nervous, or around other people.
  4. Coughing Stops When Busy: If they’re doing something that keeps them busy, like talking, eating, or sleeping, they might stop coughing for a while.


Diagnosing psychogenic cough is like solving a puzzle for doctors. Here’s how they do it:

  1. Checking for Other Problems: First, doctors make sure there’s nothing else causing the cough, like a cold or asthma.
  2. Watching When It Happens: Doctors pay attention to when the coughing starts and if there’s a pattern, like if it happens more when the person is nervous.
  3. Talking About Feelings: Sometimes, doctors chat with the person about their feelings to see if there’s a link between how they feel and when they cough.
  4. Trying Treatments: If doctors think it’s a psychogenic cough, they might try therapies or relaxation techniques to see if they help stop the coughing.

Related Article: Psychogenic Polydipsia: Quenching More Than Thirst


Treating psychogenic cough means using different ways to help with both the mind and behavior. Here are some ways doctors might do it:

  1. Talking and Learning: Talking to someone and learning new ways to handle stressful thoughts and behaviors can help. This is called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
  2. Relaxing with Hypnotherapy: Some people might find hypnotherapy helpful. It’s a way to relax deeply and change how they see things.
  3. Taking Medicine: If stress or anxiety is making the coughing worse, doctors might give medicine to help people feel calmer.
  4. Speech Therapy: Learning certain exercises and practices from a speech therapist can help control and reduce coughing by making the vocal cords stronger.
  5. Using Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a technique where people learn to control their body’s responses, like coughing, by getting feedback on what their body is doing.
  6. Learning and Support: Getting educated about psychogenic cough and having support from others who understand can make a big difference. Support groups or talking to others who have gone through the same thing can be really helpful.

Psychogenic cough is a tricky problem that needs a caring and thorough approach to understand and treat it. By understanding that emotions play a big part in coughing and treating both the body and mind, doctors can help people feel better and have a better life. With the right help and support, people with psychogenic cough can feel better and have more control over their breathing.

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