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Fan therapy for cough: case report and literature review
  1. Anna Elizabeth Sutherland1,
  2. Matthew Carey1 and
  3. Mary Miller2,3
  1. 1 Palliative Medicine, Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Palliative Care, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
  3. 3 Palliative Medicine, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna Elizabeth Sutherland, Palliative Medicine, Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice, Oxford OX3 7LE, UK; annasutherland{at}


This case report describes the care of a 59-year-old woman with metastatic small cell lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who was highly symptomatic with an intractable cough. The patient reported a subjective benefit from a table fan. The authors observed an objective improvement with a marked reduction in cough frequency when the fan was in use. A literature review was undertaken and identified one randomised controlled trial assessing the use of fan for cough. The proposed underlying mechanism of cough relief is stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, possibly by cooling. This mechanism is well described in breathlessness. It presents the possibility of a novel therapeutic approach to managing cough. Further studies of both the role of nasal receptors in cough pathophysiology and the role of fan therapy in cough, where there is no concern of an airborne infectious pathogen such as COVID-19, are warranted.

  • respiratory conditions
  • supportive care
  • lung
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

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  • Contributors AES identified the case and drafted the manuscript, undertaking the literature review. MC and MM originally identified the topic, original key article and had supervising author input throughout the drafting of the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.