Cough is one of the most common causes of presentation to GPs. Although not life threatening, chronic cough causes severe impairment of a patient’s quality of life. Algorithm-based approaches to investigation and empirical treatment for the four common causes should resolve this condition in more than 90% of cases.
- Cough is one of the most common causes of presentation to GPs. Chronic cough causes major physical and psychological morbidity.
- Chronic cough may be assessed qualitatively and semiquantitatively using cough counters and cough sensitivity testing.
- In most cases, chronic cough is caused by asthma, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), postnasal drip syndrome or chronic bronchitis.
- Appropriate investigation and empirical treatment should control cough in the majority of individuals. If cause-specific treatment fails then a trial of antitussive therapy is indicated to suppress the cough.
- If algorithm-directed investigation and treatment of chronic cough is unsuccessful then referral to a cough clinic may be appropriate.