Traditionally push-button and symptom diaries have been used to document cough events, especially when examining temporal associations between cough and reflux events. More recently, acoustic devices have allowed more accurate recording of cough events, and compared with the latter traditional techniques reported 6-18 times more coughing. Whether the differences reported between these techniques represents disparities in subject groups or cough detection and quantification methods is unknown. In this issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Kavitt et al. show that listeners of such recordings have a 4-fold increase in odds of recording cough events compared with patients using push-button techniques, and that even when using a 5-min window to assess temporal concordance/discordance, over 70% of coughs were not reported by the patients. These observations have potential significant implications when assessing temporal associations between cough and reflux, and thus any clinical decision making based on these data. This editorial examines both the findings of Kavitt et al. and discusses the pitfalls and benefits of validated accurate documentation of cough.
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