Increased capsaicin cough sensitivity in patients with multiple chemical sensitivity

J Occup Environ Med. 2002 Nov;44(11):1012-7. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200211000-00006.


Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is characterized by chemically induced symptoms from multiple organ systems. No consistent physical findings or laboratory abnormalities have been determined for the associated symptoms. Twelve patients with chemically induced airway symptoms, who satisfied Cullen's criteria for MCS, were provoked double-blind, randomized with saline and three increments of inhaled capsaicin. The recordings were compared with those of a control group of healthy individuals. The results found that the patients coughed more than the control subjects at each dose of capsaicin (P < 0.05 for 0.4 mumol/L capsaicin and P < 0.005 for 2 mumol/L and 10 mumol/L). The capsaicin provocation also induced significantly more symptoms in patients with MCS. We conclude that airway sensory reactivity is increased in patients with MCS, a finding which suggests that neurogenic factors may be of importance in this condition.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology*
  • Cough / diagnosis*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Probability
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Capsaicin