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I was wondering if anyone here has experience with psychogenic cough. It's an old “friend” of mine, it usually starts as a carryover of a physical illness such as a flu and can last for months, ruining a lot of activities. I know stress is a factor and I suspect my breathing muscles are involved in this, but I can't find infos anywhere. I'm writing this because a “crisis” has just ended abruptly my yoga nidra practice.

I somewhat feel bad for flooding the forum with questions for issues that (I think) I know are correlated, bear with me.

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What triggers it? (1) If it is a possibly slight irritation that starts it, try something soothing to stop it triggering. This could be a mild painkiller (for me, aspirin works really well on the airways), or a soothing inhalation or syrup as used for colds, sore throats, etc.

(2)There are also medications available for stopping "dry coughs" - that is, ones not made in response to mucus being produced. Look up "dry cough" on the internet - it is a well recognised phenomenon that often follows a viral infection, and there are treatments, if this is what it is. My memory is that after a viral infection, the sensory receptors that trigger a cough are increased in number in the trachea. Look up "post-viral cough" (e.g. in Wikipedia). This will also tell you medications.

(3) If it is purely psychogenic, with nothing triggering it except your own habits and expectations, then there are breathing calming and relaxation exercises - you will find lots on the web. Suggest trying these which will build up alternative habits of breathing at times when the cough might start.

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Most people cough after stretching the anterior neck muscles. Do the jaw sequence, here, and you will immediately see what I mean (it will happen after you bend the head back, but do the whole sequence, as presented):

My assumption is that there is a heap of unexplored tension around the throat area, that is only exposed when the head it tilted back with the mouth open, and then the mouth closed (we use the jaw muscles to stretch these muscles). Many people immediately cough, which leads me to speculate that this tension is what produces the cough. Try it; costs nothing.

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@Jim Pickles: I think it's a mixture of 1 and 3, since it's not unusual for me to cough when stressed out.

 

@Kit_L: I'm very familiar with that sequence, in fact I do the stretches multiple times a month. The jaw sequence doesn't make me cough, usually, but it almost always makes me want to swallow (which is a problem, during the actual stretch); probably it's due to some “unexplored tension” in the throat. Speaking of the front of my neck: I'm now aware my scalenes are tight as hell, is it ok to increase the stretch for those muscles, by lying on the bed and letting my head hanging down the edge?

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Jaja, the key point of my post was that this problem is "only exposed when the head it tilted back with the mouth open". The rest of the sequence is not critical in this regard—what I was saying was the tilting the head back part (around 9'?) with the mouth open, then closing teeth without moving anything else is what exposes this tension, if it's there.

Re. scalenes: I can't recall—have you been doing this sequence?

 

If so, make it more advanced very slowly, by raising your shoulders in steps of an inch or two only—the mechanics of this pose means that the intensity increases rapidly with small increases in extension. You could use the edge of your mattress for this if you use the deforming edge to support the neck. Use small increments!

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On 11/12/2016 at 3:52 AM, Kit_L said:

the key point of my post was that this problem is "only exposed when the head it tilted back with the mouth open".

The only reflex I have is to swallow, so apparently my cough is not linked to tension in that area.

 

On 11/12/2016 at 3:52 AM, Kit_L said:

I can't recall—have you been doing this sequence?

 

Oh yes, but I've stopped a while ago because other areas of my body needed full attention. The standard stretch wasn't even close to intense, though, so I should probably try the advanced version. I also tried the upright version, but it's not for me: my neck tend to cramp when I tilt the head back.

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