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Lung. 2008;186 Suppl 1:S78-81. Epub 2007 Nov 16.

Does idiopathic cough exist?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.


Despite a meticulous protocol involving diagnostic testing and trials of empirical therapy, there may be no obvious cause for a chronic cough in up to 42% of cases referred for specialist evaluation. In some cases, failure to consider causes that include the asthma/eosinophilic airway syndromes such as eosinophilic bronchitis and atopic cough, or nonacid gastroesophageal reflux disease may explain diagnostic failure. However, a distinct group of patients may be considered to have true idiopathic cough. Current published evidence suggests a certain patient phenotype, namely, middle-aged females with prolonged nonproductive cough and cough reflex hypersensitivity. Almost nothing else is known about this clinical entity and currently no specific therapy exists.

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