Disease burden, comorbidities and antecedents of chronic cough phenotypes in Australian adults

S. Suresh, J. L. Perret, E. H. Walters, M. J. Abramson, G. Bowatte, C. Lodge, A. Lowe, B. Erbas, P. Thomas, G. S. Hamilton, A. B. Chang, S. C. Dharmage, D. S. Bui

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    Background and objectives: While adult chronic cough has high burden, its phenotypes, particularly those without aetiologically related underlying conditions, are understudied. We investigated the prevalence, lung function and comorbidities of adult chronic cough phenotypes. 

    Methods: Data from 3608 participants aged 53 years from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS) were included. Chronic cough was defined as cough on most days for >3 months in a year. Chronic cough was classified into “explained cough” if there were any one of four major cough-associated conditions (asthma, COPD, gastroesophageal reflux disease or rhinosinusitis) or “unexplained cough” if none were present. Adjusted regression analyses investigated associations between these chronic cough phenotypes, lung function and non-respiratory comorbidities at 53 years. 

    Results: The prevalence of chronic cough was 10% (95%CI 9.1,11.0%) with 46.4% being “unexplained”. Participants with unexplained chronic cough had lower FEV1/FVC (coefficient: -1.2% [95%CI:-2,3, -0.1]) and increased odds of comorbidities including obesity (OR=1.6 [95%CI: 1.2, 2.3]), depression (OR=1.4 [95%CI: 1.0, 2.1]), hypertension (OR=1.7 [95%CI: 1.2, 2.4]) and angina, heart attack or myocardial infarction to a lesser extent, compared to those without chronic cough. Participants with explained chronic cough also had lower lung function than both those with unexplained chronic cough and those without chronic cough. 

    Conclusions: Chronic cough is prevalent in middle-age and a high proportion is unexplained. Unexplained cough contributes to poor lung function and increased comorbidities. Given unexplained chronic cough is not a symptom of major underlying respiratory conditions it should be targeted for better understanding in both clinical settings and research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    Early online date22 Sept 2023
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sept 2023


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