Cough is already an integral part of the clinical practice of the Speech-Language Pathologist. When Speech-Language Pathologists complete a clinical (bedside) swallow evaluation, we often assess whether or not the patient coughs in response to the presentation of food or liquid, and if they do, we make certain hypotheses about the patient’s airway protective functioning. If the patient does not cough, but has a delayed swallow or a wet vocal quality, we consider the possibility of silent aspiration. We also consider cough function (i.e. the presence of the cough response, the promptness of the cough, cough strength, etc.) during instrumental swallowing assessments.
We also consider cough function during instrumental swallowing assessments.
When completing these swallow evaluations, we may ask patients to cough in order to clear residue which is identified in or around the airway. If the patient does not have an “effective cough”, we may be less liberal with our diet recommendations. At times, we even recommend that patients preventatively cough during and after meals as a compensation.