Cough is one of the most common presenting symptom in primary practice. Subacute cough is defined as cough persisting for 3-8 weeks, and chronic cough as that persisting for more than 8 weeks in adults. Subacute cough is most often self-limited, but chronic cough may provide significant challenges for effective evaluation and management. The difficulty is in determining the cause of cough, because some "etiologies" are syndromes without accurate diagnostic tests. The cause is determined instead by typical historical features, elimination of alternative causes, and response to targeted therapies (therapeutic trials serve as tests). Nonetheless, a careful history and examination, followed by carefully selected therapeutic trials and/or diagnostic evaluations, may satisfactorily resolve cough in over 90% of cases.
Nontargeted cough suppressant therapy is rarely effective for chronic cough.
- Lung cancer
- Bronchiectasis and chronic suppurative lung disease
- Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Recurrent aspiration
- Zenker diverticulum
- Thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA)
- Foreign body
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Tropical filarial pulmonary eosinophilia
- Somatic cough syndrome (psychogenic cough)
Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine
University of Chicago
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
North Shore University Health System
TJK is the author of an article cited in this topic.
Dr Tomasz J. Kuzniar would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Timothy I. Morgenthaler, a previous contributor to this topic.
Director of Research
Family and Community Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago
NL declares that she has no competing interests.
Consultant Chest Physician
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
GC declares that he has no competing interests.
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