Changing the paradigm for cough: does 'cough hypersensitivity' aid our understanding?

Asia Pac Allergy. 2014 Jan;4(1):3-13. doi: 10.5415/apallergy.2014.4.1.3. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Chronic cough is a common reason for patients to seek medication attention. Over the last few decades, we have experienced significant clinical success by applying the paradigm of 'evaluating and treating the causes for chronic cough'. However, we still ask ourselves 'what underlies chronic cough. Indeed in a considerable proportion of patients cough is idiopathic, or unexplained despite vigorous evaluation. Commonly associated conditions such as rhinitis, eosinophilic bronchitis, asthma, or gastroesophageal acidic reflux may not be fundamental to cough, and thus may be triggers rather than causes. The cardinal feature of chronic cough is persistent upregulation the cough reflex, which may be driven by complex interactions between biologic, neurologic, immunologic, genetic, comorbid, and environmental factors. We suggest the new paradigm 'cough hypersensitivity syndrome' should finally bring us further advances in understanding and management of chronic cough.

Keywords: Cough; Etiology; Pathophysiology; Respiratory hypersensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review