Comparison of cause distribution between elderly and non-elderly patients with chronic cough

Respiration. 2009;77(3):259-64. doi: 10.1159/000142942. Epub 2008 Jul 3.


Background: The causes of chronic cough in elderly patients have not been specifically investigated. Therefore, it remains to be determined whether chronic cough differs between elderly and non-elderly patients.

Objectives: To investigate the distribution of causes of chronic cough in elderly patients in comparison with etiologies of chronic cough observed in non-elderly patients.

Methods: From 2,989 new patients presenting consecutively to the Department of Respiratory Medicine of the Tongji Hospital over a 1.5-year period, 287 patients with chronic cough were enrolled in the study. Patients aged > or =60 years were assigned to the elderly group. The elderly group comprised 104 patients and the non-elderly group the remaining 183 patients. The causes of cough were primarily evaluated according to a modification of Irwin's anatomic diagnostic protocol which included induced sputum cytology, verified by the specific therapy.

Results: Cough-variant asthma (34.6 vs. 41.5%) and upper airway cough syndrome (19.3 vs. 23.5%) were the most common causes of chronic cough both in the elderly and non-elderly groups. The distribution of causes and frequency were significantly different between elderly and non-elderly groups: angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI)-induced cough (16.3 vs. 1.7%, chi(2) value = 22.12, p < 0.001) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD; 10.6 vs. 3.7%, chi(2) value = 5.14, p = 0.02) were more common in the elderly group.

Conclusions: A more frequent incidence of ACEI-induced cough and GERD is the distinctive feature in the cause distribution between elderly and non-elderly patients with chronic cough.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cough / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies