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Current Status and Future Directions of Chronic Cough in China

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Chronic cough is one of the most common complaints for which patients in China seek medical attention. However, there are no nationwide data on the prevalence and socioeconomic burden of chronic cough. Although approximately 50% of Chinese men smoke, the vast majority of patients presenting for evaluation of chronic cough are never smokers. An equal sex distribution and a middle-aged predominance have been observed in the Chinese chronic cough population, despite demonstration of a higher cough reflex sensitivity in females and older patients. The role of air pollution in the distinct age and sex distribution requires further study. In terms of the etiologies of chronic cough in China, cough-variant asthma, upper airway cough syndrome, nonasthmatic eosinophilic bronchitis, and atopic cough are the most common causes, comprising 75.2% to 87.6% of cases across different regions. Chinese Guidelines for Diagnosis and Treatment of Cough were initially published in 2005, and updated in 2009 and 2016. In addition, the China Cough Coalition was established in 2016. Great progress has been made in both cough-related clinical practice and research in recent years, however, there are still challenges ahead. To facilitate optimal management of chronic cough in China, efforts promoting the dissemination and application of published guidelines will be essential, especially in community-based healthcare and in rural regions. As chronic refractory cough has been identified as a huge challenge to clinicians worldwide, continued international cooperation will be essential in optimizing evaluation and management of chronic cough.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Award No. 81270151), Incubative Project for Innovation Team of GMU (2017-159) and Guangzhou Municipal Science and Technology Key Project (2002Z2-E0091).

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Correspondence to Kefang Lai.

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Lai, K., Long, L. Current Status and Future Directions of Chronic Cough in China. Lung 198, 23–29 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00408-019-00319-z

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  • Age distribution
  • Air pollution
  • Chronic cough
  • Cough reflex sensitivity
  • Sex distribution