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Adult and paediatric cough guidelines: Ready for an overhaul?

Cough is one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical attention. Cough guidelines from numerous countries and societies are available to assist the clinician to investigate and manage patients with cough. We review some of the recent progress in the field of cough that may lead to revision of these guidelines. In adults with chronic cough, new causes such as obstructive sleep apnoea have been identified. A new terminology, cough hypersensitivity syndrome (CHS), has been proposed for patients with chronic cough, which emphasises cough reflex hypersensitivity as a key feature. New therapeutic options are now available, particularly for patients with refractory or idiopathic chronic cough, which include gabapentin, speech pathology management and morphine. There has been great progress in the assessment of cough with the development of validated quality of life questionnaires and cough frequency monitoring tools. In children, common aetiologies differ from adults and those managed according to guidelines have better outcomes compared to usual care. New diagnostic entities such as protracted bacterial bronchitis have been described. Paediatric-specific cough assessment tools such as the Parent/Child Quality of Life Questionnaire will help improve the assessment of patients. Further research is necessary to improve the evidence base for future clinical guideline recommendations. Guidelines in future should also aim to reach a wider audience that includes primary care physicians, non-specialists and patients.

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