Background: Recurrent cough can be a clinical manifestation of rhinitis. However, it remains unclear if the association between rhinitis and recurrent cough among children is independent of asthma.
Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine, in a large longitudinal cohort, whether rhinitis is significantly associated with recurrent cough alone, wheezing alone, or the combination of both symptoms during childhood.
Methods: We investigated determinants of recurrent cough, with or without wheezing, using longitudinal data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study. Among the 1246 subjects originally enrolled, 1024 children completed at least one questionnaire between the ages of 6 and 18 years and were included in the present study. In any survey, wheezing was defined as at least one wheezing episode during the past year and recurrent cough as two or more coughing episodes lasting at least 1 week without a cold during the past year. Generalized estimating equations were used to determine significant risk factors.
Results: After adjusting for sex, skin test reactivity and parental asthma, both rhinitis (OR = 2.47 CI = 1.84, 3.30) and sinusitis (OR = 1.54 CI = 1.11, 2.14) were associated with an increased risk of recurrent cough plus wheezing. The OR associated with rhinitis were significantly reduced for subjects reporting only recurrent cough or only wheezing (OR = 1.43, CI = 1.03, 1.99; and OR = 1.30, CI = 1.07, 1.58, respectively). Recurrent cough and wheezing, when examined independently, showed different patterns of risk factors.
Conclusion: We found rhinitis to be an independent risk factor for both recurrent cough and wheezing during childhood. Different pathways may be involved in the association of rhinitis with recurrent cough and wheezing.