Background: The postnasal drip (PND) syndrome is often linked as a cause of chronic cough although this is disputed.
Objectives: We examined the effect of specific topical treatment of rhinosinusitis on cough in patients presenting with a chronic cough associated with a postnasal drip or 'nasal catarrh'.
Methods: Patients presenting with a chronic cough and who complained of PND were enrolled and symptoms of PND and cough were assessed by questionnaire and by a capsaicin cough response. Rhinosinusitis was assessed by questionnaires, direct examination of the nose and by high-resolution computed tomography. In an open study, they were treated with fluticasone nasules, ipratropium bromide and azelastine nasal sprays for 28 days, after which they were re-assessed.
Results: Eighteen out of 21 patients completed the study. All patients reported having the presence of mucus in the throat. Mean cough score improved post-treatment (p<0.05), but there was no significant change in capsaicin cough sensitivity or nasal catarrh questionnaire score. There was improvement in anterior nasal discharge symptom scores (p=0.005) and in endoscopic nasal scores post-treatment (p<0.01), with a tendency to improved PND scores.
Conclusion: In a pilot open 'real-life' study treatment targeted towards rhinosinusitis accompanying PND syndrome and chronic cough led to an improvement in cough. A randomised controlled study is now needed to confirm or refute these findings.