Symptom or disease? When to really worry about a cough and go to the doctor

chronic cough is he who Lasts more than 8 weeks (or more than 2 months) and may have health consequencesrespiratory conditions or diseases, It is this cough that we should consult about and, if necessary, treat. In Spain 5.5% of the population is affected by chronic cough.

Additionally, this chronic cough is different from the common cold which usually lasts for 4 to 6 weeks. Until now, chronic cough has indeed been treated and treated as a symptom, but “almost always” there is a specific cause that produces it. so much so that From 2024, the first drug with specific indication for chronic cough will be released Which would be “probably a hospital prescription”.

This is how it explains Dr. Astrid Crespo, Associate Physician at Santa Creu Pulmonology Service isaint pau of barcelona and researchers of Barcelona Respiratory Network (BRN)A network dedicated to promoting collaborative research in the fieldOf respiratory health.

“People who suffer from persistent cough for more than 8 weeks should consult their family doctor to conduct a preliminary study of the chronic cough, and if it persists after performing basic studies, a pulmonologist to complete the study. Consider the possibility of being sent to the U.S.,” says. expert. This is also the main message that emerges from the BRN meeting, which will be held on 14 November in the Parque Sanitaria Pere Virgili in Barcelona.

People who suffer from persistent cough for more than 8 weeks should consult their family doctor for preliminary study of chronic cough.

This professional explained that the tests that should be done vary depending on the age of the patient. In those Small cases ofallergies, rhinitis or asthma As to the causes of chronic cough. And in older patients It is necessary to check whether the cough is not associated with causes such as gastroesophageal reflux or taking antihypertensive medications.

On the other hand, chronic cough can have other causes as well. smoking or other pathologies directly related to smoking, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)Because it, especially chronic bronchitis, can cause cough.

Causes and treatment of chronic cough

The most common cause of chronic cough is post-infectious pathology, such as COVID-19. “There is a subgroup of patients affected by this infection who have persistent COVID-19, who have been coughing for more than eight weeks and, therefore, will have a chronic cough. -19 infection will not be contagious, but serologically the patient will not have completely eliminated the virus,” explains the pulmonologist.

This should be noted, says doctor Chronic cough has a very significant impact on the patient’s quality of life Who are suffering from this and their family environment and are not aware of it. “Currently, it is unknown how many health resources are being allocated to treating this disorder, because traditionally, chronic cough has been considered a symptom, whereas it should be considered a disease and its management should be diverse. and should be multidisciplinary and addressed at different levels of assistance”.

Similarly, “At present, There is no specific medicine prescribed for chronic coughThose that are used have low efficacy and side effects because they act at the level of the central nervous system. Over the past 5-10 years, specific drugs have been developed for patients with chronic cough,” says the pulmonologist, highlighting the so-called P2X3 receptor antagonists.

“By 2024 First drug with specific indications for chronic cough“, says the expert, who has achieved a response of more than 75% in trials. “It would probably be indicated for both refractory chronic cough (cough that persists despite treatment of underlying chronic diseases) and whooping cough. Idiopathic chronic (in which no underlying cause has been identified after thorough diagnosis). This new drug will likely be given in hospitals; It is likely that only pulmonologists specializing in chronic cough can prescribe it,” the expert concluded.

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