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Cough in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: is it important and what are the effects of treatment?

Peter MA Calverley

Author Affiliations

Clinical Sciences Centre, University Hospital Aintree, Lower Lane, L9, 7AL, Liverpool, United Kingdom

University of Liverpool, Lower Lane, L9, 7AL, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Cough 2013, 9:17  doi:10.1186/1745-9974-9-17

Published: 24 June 2013


Over the last 40 years the assessment and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has focused primarily on airflow obstruction with little significance given to the problem of cough. The reasons for this include a view that cough arises simply from the direct irritant and inflammatory effect of cigarette smoke or the presence of excess mucus in the airways. Doubt that cough is of any consequence to patients or responsive to current therapies has reinforced this opinion. At odds with this is the emerging evidence that cough impacts adversely on patients’ health status and forms an important component of recently validated quality of life instruments. This article presents the arguments why the assessment and treatment of cough should have a more prominent place in the clinical management of COPD.

Cough; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Mucus; Bronchitis; Treatment