Cough in chronic lung disease: a state of the art review

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Hirons, Barnaby
Rhatigan, Katherine
Kesavan, Harini
Turner, Richard D
Birring, Surinder S
Cho, Peter SP
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Chronic cough (CC; ≥8 weeks in duration) is a common and burdensome feature of respiratory diseases. The understanding of cough has progressed significantly in recent years, albeit largely in refractory (unexplained) chronic cough (RCC) in the absence of other respiratory conditions. The prevalence of CC in respiratory diseases is poorly described, but estimates have been reported: asthma (8–58%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; 10–74%), bronchiectasis (82–98%), interstitial lung disease (ILD; 50–89%) and sarcoidosis (3–64%). CC in respiratory conditions generally predicts impaired health status and more severe disease. It is associated with increased symptom burden and disease severity in asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis and ILD, higher exacerbation frequency in asthma and bronchiectasis, and increased mortality and lung transplantation in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Physiologically, heightened cough reflex sensitivity (CRS) has been reported and postulated to be mechanistic in isolated RCC. Cough reflex hypersensitivity (CRH) has also been reported in asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, ILD and sarcoidosis. Unlike recent advances in isolated RCC, there are limited studies and understanding of central cough neuropathways in other respiratory conditions. Of note, dysfunctional central voluntary cough suppression neuropathways and physiology were observed in isolation in RCC; cough suppression is preserved in COPD. Understanding in the mechanism of RCC cannot be simply extrapolated to other respiratory conditions. The restricted understanding of cough mechanisms in these conditions has limited cough-specific therapeutic options in this context. There is currently an unmet need to expand our understanding of cough in chronic respiratory conditions, both in order to improve the quality of life of patients, and to improve knowledge of cough in general. This review aims to describe the prevalence, impact, pathophysiology and management of CC in asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, ILD and sarcoidosis.

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Journal of Thoracic Disease

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© Journal of Thoracic Disease.. This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits the non-commercial replication and distribution of the article with the strict proviso that no changes or edits are made and the original work is properly cited (including links to both the formal publication through the relevant DOI and the license). See:

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Hirons, B; Rhatigan, K; Kesavan, H; Turner, RD; Birring, SS; Cho, PSP, Cough in chronic lung disease: a state of the art review, Journal of Thoracic Disease, 2023, 15 (10), pp. 5823-5843