Chronic Cough Due to Stable Chronic Bronchitis: CHEST Expert Panel Report

Chest. 2020 Aug;158(2):705-718. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.02.015. Epub 2020 Feb 24.


Background: Chronic cough due to chronic bronchitis (CB) causes significant impairment in quality of life, and effective treatment strategies are needed. We conducted a systematic review on the management of chronic cough due to CB to update the recommendations and suggestions of the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST) 2006 guideline on this topic.

Methods: This systematic review asked three questions: (1) What are the clinical features of the history that suggest a patient's cough-phlegm syndrome is due to CB? (2) Can treatment of stable CB improve or eliminate chronic cough? (3) Can therapy that targets chronic cough due to CB prevent or reduce the occurrence of acute CB exacerbations? Studies of adult patients with CB were included and assessed for relevance and quality. Based on the systematic review, guideline suggestions were developed and voted on by using the CHEST organization methodology.

Results: The search strategy used an assortment of descriptors and assessments to identify studies of chronic cough due to CB.

Conclusions: The evidence supporting the management of chronic cough due to CB is limited overall and of low quality. This article provides guidance on treatment by presenting suggestions based on the best currently available evidence and identifies gaps in our knowledge and areas for future research.

Keywords: chronic bronchitis; chronic cough; nonpharmacological treatment; pharmacological treatment.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchitis, Chronic / complications*
  • Cough / etiology*
  • Cough / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Symptom Flare Up
  • United States