Pharmacologic and Nonpharmacologic Treatment for Acute Cough Associated With the Common Cold: CHEST Expert Panel Report

Chest. 2017 Nov;152(5):1021-1037. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2017.08.009. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Background: Acute cough associated with the common cold (CACC) causes significant impairment in quality of life. Effective treatment approaches are needed for CACC. We conducted a systematic review on the management of CACC to update the recommendations and suggestions of the CHEST 2006 guideline on this topic.

Methods: This systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) asked the question: Is there evidence of clinically relevant treatment effects for pharmacologic or nonpharmacologic therapies in reducing the duration/severity of acute CACC? Studies of adults and pediatric patients with CACC were included and assessed for relevance and quality. Based on the systematic review, guideline suggestions were developed and voted on using the American College of Chest Physicians organization methodology.

Results: Six systematic reviews and four primary studies identified from updated literature searches for each of the reviews or from hand searching were included and reported data on 6,496 participants with CACC who received one or more of a variety of interventions. The studies used an assortment of descriptors and assessments to identify CACC.

Conclusions: The evidence supporting the management of CACC is overall of low quality. This document provides treatment suggestions based on the best currently available evidence and identifies gaps in our knowledge and areas for future research.

Keywords: acute cough; common cold; pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Common Cold / complications*
  • Common Cold / therapy
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Consensus*
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Nonprescription Drugs