Background: Although many chronic cough patients have complained of an induced cough by cold air contact, the clinical relevance of cold air to inducing a cough and the diagnostic value of a hyperpnea with cold air (HCA) challenge to detect a hyperreactive cough reflex have not yet been investigated.
Methods: Recordings of cough counts after a 2-min HCA challenge were performed in 49 chronic cough patients and 15 healthy controls. Capsaicin cough provocation tests, which determine the threshold concentration of capsaicin that induces five or more consecutive coughs (C5), were also administered.
Results: After comparing the results from the capsaicin cough provocation tests of the patients and the controls, the chronic cough patients were divided into two groups: an increased cough sensitivity (ICS) group (n = 28) (C5 < 32 micromol/l) and a normal cough sensitivity (NCS) group (n = 21) (C5 >or= 32 micromol/l). The median value of induced cough counts after a HCA challenge was 11 coughs in patients with ICS and was a significantly enhanced cough response compared to that of the patients with NCS and healthy controls (four coughs, respectively).
Conclusions: A simple cough provocation test using a HCA challenge may be useful for detecting ICS. It also suggests that hyperreactive cough reflexes may be one of the mechanisms of inducing chronic cough.