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Health Woes Not Always to Blame for Chronic Cough
Date:4/18/2008

In many cases, treating an illness doesn't ease the problem, experts say

FRIDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- The widespread belief that chronic cough is only connected to other conditions is hampering the development of new treatments, according to a paper by U.K. researchers.

It's one of two studies on chronic cough published in this week's issue of The Lancet. Both papers are by the same authors: Kian Fan Chung of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London; and Ian Pavord, of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

In the first paper, the authors provided information on chronic cough, which is defined as a cough lasting longer than eight weeks. The condition, which affects 9 percent to 33 percent of the population in many areas of Europe and the United States, is often associated with cigarette smoking. Compared to non-smokers or ex-smokers, smokers are three times more likely to have chronic cough.

Acute infections, chronic infections, airway diseases, tumors, foreign bodies, cardiovascular diseases, and heart drugs such as ACE inhibitors are among the other causes of chronic cough, which is one of the most common reasons why people see a family doctor. Chronic cough accounts for 10 percent to 38 percent of respiratory outpatient practice in the United States, the experts wrote.

"Doctors should always work towards a clear diagnosis, considering common and rare illnesses. In some patients, no cause is identified, leading to the diagnosis of idiopathic cough," they noted.

They said the many causes of chronic cough, plus the cough reflex itself, could cause inflammation or tissue remodeling. This could cause an enhanced cough reflex, which could maintain chronic cough through a positive feedback process.

"Effective control of cough requires not only controlling the disease causing the cough but also desensitization of cough pathways," the authors co
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