Objective: The frequency of the common symptom of cough in children is unknown. The aim of this study was to compare cough frequency and perception of cough severity in children with and without recurrent cough.
Methodology: Eighty-four children with (C) and without (NC) recurrent cough were recruited in the same season. Cough frequency (measured with cough-meter) and subjective cough severity (measured on parent-completed and child-completed diary cards on two subjective systems), were compared between the two groups.
Results: Cough frequency in C (median 65/day) was significantly higher than in NC (10/day). The correlation between daytime and night-time cough was higher in NC (rs = 0.51, P < 0.00001) than in C (rs = 0.3, P = 0.05). The C group had significantly higher coughs per score than NC, for both subjective methods.
Conclusions: Children with recurrent cough have a higher frequency and different pattern of cough than controls enrolled in the same season. Subjective perception of cough severity is dependent on the population studied.