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Pearls and pitfalls in the diagnosis of cough variant asthma

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Cough alone may sometimes be the sole presenting symptom of asthma. Patients experience cough without wheeze or shortness of breath and with normal baseline pulmonary function test results. These patients do, however, demonstrate bronchial hyperreactivity. They also respond to specific traditional asthma therapy. These patients are considered to have a specific asthma phenotype: cough variant asthma (CVA).

In prospective studies of patients with chronic cough, an average of 25% have CVA. Patients have chronic cough, normal baseline pulmonary function tests, positive bronchial inhalation challenge results, and response to specific asthma therapy. What makes these patients cough is still unknown. The cough reflex is complex. The specific cause of cough in CVA may be similar to cough mechanisms seen in typical bronchial asthma.

All therapies for typical bronchial asthma have been successful in controlling cough in patients with CVA. The overall prognosis of CVA is excellent, with most patients requiring chronic inhaled corticosteroid therapy.

Keywords: Asthma; PFT; corticosteroids; cough; cough reflex; inhalation challenge; variant

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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