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    Methods for cough elicitation frequently involve aerosolized tussive agents. Here, we sought to determine whether healthy individuals demonstrate a quantifiable cough response after inhaling a volatile ester and if breath control techniques modify this chemically induced cough response. Sixty adult male and female participants inhaled prepared liquid dilutions of ethyl butyrate dissolved in paraffin oil at 20%, 40%, and 60% v/v concentrations in triplicate, with presentation order randomized. We delivered stimuli through a face mask connected to an olfactometer and respiratory pneumotachograph. Participants rated sensations of their urge to cough and pleasantness of the odor while cough airflow was measured. Following baseline testing, participants were randomized to implement pursed-lip breathing or slow-paced breathing after inhaling ethyl butyrate to determine the effects of breath control on cough measures. Inhaled ethyl butyrate elicited cough in 70% of participants. Higher concentrations of ethyl butyrate resulted in significantly greater sensation of the urge to cough, F(2, 80) = 10.72, p < .001, and significantly more generated coughs, F(2, 63) = 13.14, p < .001. Compared to baseline, participants rated significantly decreased urge to cough during breath control techniques, F(1, 40) = 11.01, p = .0019. No significant changes were observed in the number of generated coughs between baseline and breath control techniques, F(1, 31) = 7.23, p = .01. Airborne ethyl butyrate is a tussigenic agent in humans. Our findings provide opportunities for future research directions in normal and disordered cough responses to volatile compounds.


    Carolyn K Novaleski, Karen Wheeler Hegland, Mikala M Aleksandruk, Pamela H Dalton, Joel D Mainland. Characterization of Ethyl Butyrate-Induced Cough Before and After Breath Control Techniques in Healthy Adults. American journal of speech-language pathology. 2023 Mar 09;32(2):675-687

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    PMID: 36634229

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