Does idiopathic cough exist?

Lung. 2008:186 Suppl 1:S78-81. doi: 10.1007/s00408-007-9048-4. Epub 2007 Nov 16.


Despite a meticulous protocol involving diagnostic testing and trials of empirical therapy, there may be no obvious cause for a chronic cough in up to 42% of cases referred for specialist evaluation. In some cases, failure to consider causes that include the asthma/eosinophilic airway syndromes such as eosinophilic bronchitis and atopic cough, or nonacid gastroesophageal reflux disease may explain diagnostic failure. However, a distinct group of patients may be considered to have true idiopathic cough. Current published evidence suggests a certain patient phenotype, namely, middle-aged females with prolonged nonproductive cough and cough reflex hypersensitivity. Almost nothing else is known about this clinical entity and currently no specific therapy exists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Bronchitis / complications*
  • Bronchitis / diagnosis
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough* / diagnosis
  • Cough* / etiology
  • Cough* / physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Prognosis
  • Reflex / physiology*