Sweet taste and menthol increase cough reflex thresholds

Paul M. Wise, Paul A.S. Breslin, Pamela Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cough is a vital protective reflex that is triggered by both mechanical and chemical stimuli. The current experiments explored how chemosensory stimuli modulate this important reflex. Cough thresholds were measured using a single-inhalation capsaicin challenge. Experiment 1 examined the impact of sweet taste: Cough thresholds were measured after rinsing the mouth with a sucrose solution (sweet) or with water (control). Experiment 2 examined the impact of menthol: Cough thresholds were measured after inhaling headspace above a menthol solution (menthol vapor) or headspace above the mineral oil solvent (control). Experiment 3 examined the impact of rinsing the mouth with a (bitter) sucrose octaacetate solution. Rinsing with sucrose and inhaling menthol vapor significantly increased measured cough thresholds. Rinsing with sucrose octaacete caused a non-significant decrease in cough thresholds, an important demonstration of specificity. Decreases in cough reflex sensitivity from sucrose or menthol could help explain why cough syrups without pharmacologically active ingredients are often almost as effective as formulations with an added drug. Further, the results support the idea that adding menthol to cigarettes might make tobacco smoke more tolerable for beginning smokers, at least in part, by reducing the sensitivity of an important airway defense mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-241
Number of pages6
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

Fingerprint

Menthol
Cough
Reflex
Sucrose
Inhalation
Experiments
Vapors
Mouth
Mineral Oil
Tobacco
Taste Threshold
Capsaicin
Smoke
Tobacco Products
Defense Mechanisms
Demonstrations
Water
Pharmaceutical Preparations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Keywords

  • Anti-tussive
  • Capsaicin
  • Chemosensory
  • Cough-suppressant
  • Irritation
  • Sucrose

Cite this

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Sweet taste and menthol increase cough reflex thresholds. / Wise, Paul M.; Breslin, Paul A.S.; Dalton, Pamela.

In: Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Vol. 25, No. 3, 01.06.2012, p. 236-241.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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