Unexplained cough in the adult.

Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.
Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America (Impact Factor: 1.34). 02/2010; 43(1):167-80, xi-xii. DOI: 10.1016/j.otc.2009.11.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Unexplained cough is a diagnosis of exclusion that should not be made until a thorough validated diagnostic evaluation is performed, specific and appropriate validated treatments have been tried and failed, and uncommon causes have been ruled out. When chronic cough remains troublesome after the initial work up, determine that a protocol has been used that has been shown to lead to successful results. If such a protocol has been used, next consider whether or not pitfalls in management have been avoided. If they have been, the frequency of truly unexplained chronic cough usually should not exceed 10%. While patients with truly unexplained coughs have an overly sensitive cough reflex, the mere presence of an overly sensitive cough reflex does not by itself explain why they do not get better, because most patients with chronic cough, even those who respond to treatment and get better, have demonstrable heightened cough sensitivity. Management options include referral to a cough clinic with interdisciplinary expertise, speech therapy, and self-limited trials of drugs, preferentially with those shown to be effective in randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trials in patients with unexplained chronic cough.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Worldwide, cough is regarded as a challenging clinical problem due to its frequency and often limited therapeutic options. Chronic cough that remains refractory to usual medical treatment causes significant quality of life impairment in people with this problem. Methods: We have examined current evidence on recent additions in the treatment of cough, specifically treatment of refractory chronic cough with speech pathology and gabapentin. Relevant randomised control trials, reviews and case reports were identified through a PubMed and SCOPUS search of English-language literature referring to these concepts over the last eight years. Summary: Of the one hundred and two articles comprising this review the majority investigated the role of the transient receptor potential (TRP) receptors TRP Vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) and TRPA1 in cough and the potential of TRP antagonists as effective anti-tussives. However, these have only been tested in the laboratory and therefore their clinical effectiveness is unknown. Behavioural treatments such as speech pathology have gained momentum and this was evident in the increasing number of articles investigating its positive effect on cough. Investigation on the effectiveness of neuromodulating medications in the treatment of cough have been supported primarily through case series reports and prospective reviews however; their use (particularly gabapentin) has been significantly advanced through recently conducted randomised controlled trials. Conclusions: Recent additions in the treatment of chronic cough have been significant as they consider cough to have a unifying diagnosis of cough hypersensitivity with or without the presence of a neuropathic basis. Primarily, effective treatments for chronic cough target these areas and include behavioural treatment such as speech pathology and pharmaceutical treatment with neuromodulating medications such as gabapentin.