Habit Cough: An Unusual Form of Chronic Cough That Can be Cured Over Zoom

Bethany Buettner had started coughing…a lot. She had recently faced pneumonia, but after a course of antibiotics she appeared to have recovered…except for her persistent cough. It wasn’t long before her father Dennis became gravely concerned. The cough wasn’t going away. In fact, it seemed to take on a distinctive, almost predictable rhythm. It was dry, non-productive, “barking” cough. A month went by, and the cough still remained.

Chronic Cough versus Habit Cough

Chronic cough describes a condition of long-term coughing that lasts for approximately a month or longer. There are many medical conditions that can produce a chronic cough, such as asthma and other lung diseases. However, there is also a cause of a long-term cough for which your physician may not be aware.

In Bethany’s case, she had a form of chronic cough called habit cough. This is a cough that has no physically detectable cause (idiopathic). It has been best described in children but recently has also been identified in adults. It often begins after a cold or other mild infection. The other symptoms resolve, but the coughing remains or even intensifies. The cough in this disorder is often very frequent and harsh. An important diagnostic characteristic is that the cough disappears completely once the patient falls asleep.

Bethany’s Story

For Bethany, the coughing began to take over her life. She coughed so often and constantly that she wasn’t able to participate in school or other activities due to the disruption. After three months of visiting Bethany’s pediatrician and a pediatric pulmonologist, the family and doctors remained completely stumped. None of the methods prescribed by her doctors helped resolve the cough.

It was only after desperate searching using the internet that Dennis decided to reach out to Dr. Miles Weinberger, a pediatric pulmonologist, whose publications described habit cough. It was Dr. Weinberger that suggested that Bethany most likely had habit cough. It was the power of suggestion that would ultimately cure Bethany. Dr. Weinberger and Bethany met face to face on a Skype call. The two had a conversation in which the doctor instructed her to hold back her urge to cough when she felt one coming on. Dr. Weinberger told Bethany that she was in control of the cough, not the other way around.

The session took about 25 minutes in total and by the end of it Bethany had stopped coughing.

A video recording of Dr. Weinberger talking to Bethany, made by Bethany’s father, has now been used to cure dozens of children dealing with chronic habit cough from across the globe. At first Dr. Weinberger used Skype to provide cough cessation to a few other children, but then found that children and even a few adults watching the video of Bethany had stopped coughing. Dr. Weinberger called this suggestion therapy by proxy. Dr. Weinberger says that he has been studying habit cough since the 1970’s and first decided to use suggestion therapy after reading an earlier publication from allergist Dr. Bernard Berman, who described using the method successfully in 1966.

Dr. Weinberger says that he has provided the information about habit cough and its simple treatment to others in his field through a list-serve used by pediatric pulmonologists. Unfortunately, primary care physicians may still be unaware of the habit cough. As a result, these children are often referred to otolaryngologists and neurologists who also are not knowledgeable about habit cough. That results in excessive diagnostic procedures and trials of medication. This causes delays and causes suffering for the patient and family. Dr. Weinberger asks,

“If the parents can go to the web and find out about habit cough, then why couldn’t the doctor?”

Find the original cure video here.

Curious to learn more about chronic cough and habit cough? Do you think your child could have the condition? Visit Dr. Weinberger’s website to learn more.

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