Background: Although chronic cough is a common problem in clinical practice, data on the prevalence and characteristics of cough in the general population are scarce. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of chronic cough that is not associated with diagnosed respiratory conditions and examine the impact on health status and psychological health, in a representative adult population cohort
Methods: North West Adelaide Health Study (n stage 1 = 4060, stage 2 = 3160) is a representative population adult cohort. Clinical assessment included spirometry, anthropometry and skin tests. Questionnaires assessed demographics, lifestyle risk factors, quality of life, mental health and respiratory symptoms, doctor diagnosed conditions and medication use.
Results: Of the 3355 people without identified lung disease at baseline, 18.2% reported chronic cough. In multiple logistic regression models, at follow-up, dry chronic cough without sputum production was significantly more common in males (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1, 1.9), current smokers (OR 4.9, 95% CI 3.4, 7.2), obesity (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3, 2.9), use of ACE inhibitors (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1, 2.9), severe mental health disturbance (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.4, 3.1) and older age (40-59 years OR 1.7 95% CI 1.2, 2.4; > or = 60 years OR 2.1 95% CI 1.3, 3.5). Among non-smokers only, all cough was significantly more common in men, those with severe mental health disturbance and obesity.
Conclusions: Chronic cough is a major cause of morbidity. Attention to cough is indicated in patients with obesity, psychological symptoms or smokers. Inquiring about cough in those with mental health problems may identify reversible morbidity.