Recent guidelines consider chronic cough to be a unique clinical entity with different phenotypes. We aimed to investigate them in a general population and to describe prevalence, distribution, and characteristics of these phenotypes within the Austrian general population.
From the LEAD study, a longitudinal observational population-based cohort, data from questionnaires and spirometry of 10,057 adult participants was analysed. Chronic cough was defined as coughing nearly every day during the last 12 months for at least 3 months (>12 weeks).
The prevalence of chronic cough was 9% and increased with age. We found no sex predominance but a female preponderance (68%) in never smokers. A presumable cause was identified in 85% of which more than half (53.9%) had two phenotypes, 36.9% belonged to one only and 9.2% to three or more. Regarding the distribution of phenotypes, 40.8% were current smokers, 32.6% had an ACE inhibitor intake, 18.2% GERD, 17.6% asthmatic cough, 9.7% UACS and 28.3% other diseases associated with chronic cough. 15% had unexplained chronic cough with no identifiable phenotype. Current smoking, low socioeconomic status, obesity, COPD and obstructive sleep apnea were associated factors with chronic cough.
Chronic cough is common among adults in Austria and highly prevalent in the older population. Most participants can be phenotyped with simple questionnaire-based assessment and can therefore potentially receive specific treatment without intensive clinical workup.

Copyright © 2022 Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ USA, The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.