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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.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ supportive & palliative care

Publication Date



Palliative Medicine, Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice, Oxford, UK