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Am Fam Physician. 2011 Oct 15;84(8):887-92.

Evaluation of the patient with chronic cough.

Author information

1
Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, 29425, USA. benichjj@musc.edu

Abstract

Initial evaluation of the patient with chronic cough (i.e., of more than eight weeks' duration) should include a focused history and physical examination, and in most patients, chest radiography. Patients who are taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor should switch to a medication from another drug class. The most common causes of chronic cough in adults are upper airway cough syndrome, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, alone or in combination. If upper airway cough syndrome is suspected, a trial of a decongestant and a first-generation antihistamine is warranted. The diagnosis of asthma should be confirmed based on clinical response to empiric therapy with inhaled bronchodilators or corticosteroids. Empiric treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease should be initiated in lieu of testing for patients with chronic cough and reflux symptoms. Patients should avoid exposure to cough-evoking irritants, such as cigarette smoke. Further testing, such as high-resolution computed tomography, and referral to a pulmonologist may be indicated if the cause of chronic cough is not identified. In children, a cough lasting longer than four weeks is considered chronic. The most common causes in children are respiratory tract infections, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Evaluation of children with chronic cough should include chest radiography and spirometry.

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PMID:
22010767
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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