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What are acute and chronic cough

January 09 2016

Cough is the most common symptom for which patients seek medical advice to doctors, both primary and secondary level health care. Acute cough, which is frequently noted when infections of the upper respiratory tract, can at the outset to cause serious damage, however, usually self-healing and rarely needs significant medical intervention. Chronic cough is the main symptom of many serious chronic respiratory disease, however it may also be the only symptom of a number of extrapulmonary diseases, particularly upper respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract. Even if the diagnosis is known, the cough may be difficult to treat and lead to a deterioration in the quality of life of patients. Session dedicated to the syndrome of cough to respiratory diseases, is very popular, which suggests that the pathophysiology, assessment and successful remain topics of great interest for many practitioners.


Sharp cough

Key information:

  • Acute cough is defined as cough lasting less than 3 weeks;
  • Acute cough is a frequent reason for referral of the patient to the primary care physician and usually indicates infection of the upper respiratory tract;
  • Cough usually has a benign course and terminate without treatment;
  • This is the most common symptom associated with the exacerbation and hospitalization of patients with asthma and COPD
  • estimated cost of treatment of acute cough to the UK economy at least ? 979 million. This figure includes compensation for disability in the amount of ? 875 million and ? 104 million from the health sector, as well as the purchase of OTC medicines.


  • Indications for further investigation include haemoptysis, severe systemic disease, inhalation of foreign objects, suspected lung cancer;
  • Patients have to say about the relief after using OTC drugs, however there is little evidence that these drugs have a positive pharmacological effect.

Chronic cough

Key information:

  • Chronic cough is defined as cough lasting more than 8 weeks;
  • is estimated to occur in 10-20 % of the adult population, most often among women and people with high body weight;
  • the Coughing is causing the redirect to the institutions of secondary health care for the treatment of respiratory infections in 10% of cases;
  • the Majority of patients have a dry or minimally productive cough
  • the decline in the quality of life of patients with chronic cough can be compared with the condition in severe COPD;
  • Significant sputum production usually indicates primary lung damage;
  • In cases of chronic cough primary is to increase the cough reflex.

Clinical assessment of chronic cough


  • To account for all patients a detailed medical history, including detailed occupational history of the patient;
  • Physical examination should focus on systems whose destruction may often be manifested by a cough;
  • Review of patients with chronic cough should include an assessment of health status and severity of cough. Visual analogue assessment of cough on a scale of severity is an alternative to a questionnaire on the quality of life of the patient with the cough, but less reliable (quality criterion diagnostics);
  • chest x-ray and spirometry are mandatory (quality criterion diagnostics);
  • Bronchial provocative test should be carried out among patients with chronic cough, the etiology of which clearly follows from clinical signs and normal results of spirometry;
  • Bronchoscopy should be performed for all patients with chronic cough and suspected aspiration of foreign bodies;
  • Computed tomography of high resolution can be used in patients with chronic cough who are undergoing other medical research;
  • the Optimal management of diseases must consist of a combination of diagnostic tests and trial treatments.

Translated by "Yandex.Translate": translate.yandex.ru.

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Author: Надя Данильченко

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