Cough and asthma diagnosis: physicians' diagnosis and treatment of patients complaining of acute, subacute and chronic cough in rural areas of Japan

Int J Gen Med. 2010 Apr 8;3:101-7. doi: 10.2147/ijgm.s8167.

Abstract

Background: Cough is one of the most common reasons for visiting a clinic. The causes of cough differ according to the duration of cough. Infectious disease is commonly observed in acute cough while noninfectious disease is commonly observed in chronic cough. On the other hand, cough is frequently observed in patients with asthma/cough variant asthma (CVA).

Objective: In this study, we investigated the causes of cough in a rural region in Japan and the clinical examination and treatment for the patients diagnosed as asthma/CVA.

Methods: We analyzed 124 patients who complained of cough.

Results: The most common reason for acute cough was respiratory tract infection while asthma/CVA is the most common reason for subacute and chronic cough. The diagnostic procedure for asthma/CVA depends on clinical symptoms in asthmatic patients with acute cough. While in asthmatic patients with subacute and chronic cough, diagnosis of asthma depends on clinical examinations including chest radiogram, immunoglobulin E, white blood cells counts, sputum examination or spirometry as well as symptoms. For the treatment of asthma, the use of long-acting beta(2)-stimulant was dominant in asthmatic patients with acute cough while the use of leukotriene receptor and inhaled corticosteroid were dominant in asthmatic patients with subacute or chronic cough.

Conclusions: Diagnosis and treatment for asthma differs according to the duration of cough. Simple guidelines for asthma/CVA according to the duration of cough might be necessary for diagnosis and treatment of asthma/CVA for general physicians especially in rural areas.

Keywords: asthma; cough; cough variant asthma; diagnostic procedures.