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Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Dec;35:100-4. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2015.10.004. Epub 2015 Oct 20.

Evidence for neuropathic processes in chronic cough.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Nagoya, Japan. Electronic address:
Experimental Studies, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, UK; Royal Brompton NIHR Biomedical Research Unit, London, UK.


Chronic cough is a very common symptom for which patients seek medical attention but can often be difficult to manage, because associated causes may remain elusive and treatment of any associated causes does not always provide adequate relief. Current antitussives have limited efficacy and undesirable side-effects. Patients with chronic cough typically describe sensory symptoms suggestive of upper airway and laryngeal neural dysfunction. They often report cough triggered by low-level physical and chemical stimuli supporting the recently emerging concept of 'cough hypersensitivity syndrome'. Chronic cough is a neuropathic condition that could be secondary to sensory nerve damage caused by inflammatory, infective and allergic factors. Mechanisms underlying peripheral and central augmentation of the afferent cough pathways have been identified. Successful treatment of chronic cough with agents used for treating neuropathic pain, such as gabapentin and amitriptyline, would also support this concept. Further research of neuropathic cough may lead to the discovery of more effective antitussives in the future.


Amitryptiline; Chronic cough; Cough hypersensitivity syndrome; Gabapentin; Neuropathic pain; Sensory neuropathy

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