Health awareness

Living with chronic cough: Judy’s story

“I spend a lot of time hoping and praying that I don’t start coughing because I don’t want to ruin anything for those around me"

November 22, 2021

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Judy C.

For the past five decades, Judy C. has been apologizing for something she can’t control – a cough that hasn’t gone away.

Judy remembers her cough starting when she was in college. Following a class presentation, she began coughing so severely that she had to leave the room. Since then, she felt her cough bothered people so much that she avoided some of her favorite activities for years.

Eventually, her general practitioner suggested she might have a condition called chronic cough.

Chronic cough is a cough that lasts longer than eight weeks in adults. People with the condition commonly cough in “bouts” they can’t control, and often experience many physical symptoms, which may include dizziness, headaches, physical exhaustion, stress urinary incontinence and sleep disturbances.

The impact of chronic cough

Judy loves spending time with her family and grandchildren, and going to Broadway shows, movies or dinner with her husband. But she always worries about how her chronic cough could affect those moments.

“I spend a lot of time hoping and praying that I don’t start coughing because I don’t want to ruin anything for those around me."

“When I’m at a show, I get nervous if I’m not sitting close to an end seat because I won’t be able to leave the room quickly if a coughing bout begins,” explains Judy.

Judy’s not alone in feeling the social and emotional impact of this condition. Chronic cough may lead people to feel embarrassed or frustrated about their cough around others.  

The reason we do what we do

Inspired by Judy and many others like her, Merck has teamed up with the American Lung Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to help raise awareness of chronic cough with The Cough Chronicles – an educational resource where people can learn more about the condition and hear from others with similar experiences.

“I want others living with chronic cough to know that it’s important to surround yourself with a community of people who understand the condition and will support you. By sharing my story, I hope to raise awareness and help others feel inspired to share their own experiences with chronic cough.”

Learn more about chronic cough and hear from others who share similar experiences, by visiting