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      Cough: are children really different to adults?

      , 1

      Cough (London, England)

      BioMed Central

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          Worldwide paediatricians advocate that children should be managed differently from adults. In this article, similarities and differences between children and adults related to cough are presented. Physiologically, the cough pathway is closely linked to the control of breathing (the central respiratory pattern generator). As respiratory control and associated reflexes undergo a maturation process, it is expected that the cough would likewise undergo developmental stages as well. Clinically, the 'big three' causes of chronic cough in adults (asthma, post-nasal drip and gastroesophageal reflux) are far less common causes of chronic cough in children. This has been repeatedly shown by different groups in both clinical and epidemiological studies. Therapeutically, some medications used empirically for cough in adults have little role in paediatrics. For example, anti-histamines (in particular H 1 antagonists) recommended as a front-line empirical treatment of chronic cough in adults have no effect in paediatric cough. Instead it is associated with adverse reactions and toxicity. Similarly, codeine and its derivatives used widely for cough in adults are not efficacious in children and are contraindicated in young children. Corticosteroids, the other front-line empirical therapy recommended for adults, are also minimally (if at all) efficacious for treating non-specific cough in children. In summary, current data support that management guidelines for paediatric cough should be different to those in adults as the aetiological factors and treatment in children significantly differ to those in adults.

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          Asthma exacerbations and sputum eosinophil counts: a randomised controlled trial.

          Treatment decisions in asthma are based on assessments of symptoms and simple measures of lung function, which do not relate closely to underlying eosinophilic airway inflammation. We aimed to assess whether a management strategy that minimises eosinophilic inflammation reduces asthma exacerbations compared with a standard management strategy. We recruited 74 patients with moderate to severe asthma from hospital clinics and randomly allocated them to management either by standard British Thoracic Society asthma guidelines (BTS management group) or by normalisation of the induced sputum eosinophil count and reduction of symptoms (sputum management group). We assessed patients nine times over 12 months. The results were used to manage those in the sputum management group, but were not disclosed in the BTS group. The primary outcomes were the number of severe exacerbations and control of eosinophilic inflammation, measured by induced sputum eosinophil count. Analyses were by intention to treat. The sputum eosinophil count was 63% (95% CI 24-100) lower over 12 months in the sputum management group than in the BTS management group (p=0.002). Patients in the sputum management group had significantly fewer severe asthma exacerbations than did patients in the BTS management group (35 vs 109; p=0.01) and significantly fewer patients were admitted to hospital with asthma (one vs six, p=0.047). The average daily dose of inhaled or oral corticosteroids did not differ between the two groups. A treatment strategy directed at normalisation of the induced sputum eosinophil count reduces asthma exacerbations and admissions without the need for additional anti-inflammatory treatment.
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            Early intervention with budesonide in mild persistent asthma: a randomised, double-blind trial.

            Although inhaled glucocorticosteroids are recommended for persistent asthma, their long-term effect on recent onset, mild, persistent asthma has yet to be established. We did a randomised, double-blind clinical trial in 7241 patients in 32 countries to assess the effects of budesonide in patients who had had mild persistent asthma for less than 2 years and who had not had previous regular treatment with glucocorticosteroids. Patients aged 5-66 years received either budesonide or placebo once daily for 3 years in addition to their usual asthma medications. The daily budesonide dose was 400 microg, or 200 microg for children younger than 11 years. The primary outcome was time to first severe asthma-related event, and analysis was by intention to treat. 198 of 3568 patients on placebo and 117 of 3597 on budesonide had at least one severe asthma exacerbation; hazard ratio 0.56 (95% CI 0.45-0.71, p<0.0001). Patients on budesonide had fewer courses of systemic corticosteroids and more symptom-free days than did those on placebo. Compared with placebo, budesonide increased postbronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) from baseline by 1.48% (p<0.0001) after 1 year and by 0.88% (p=0.0005) after 3 years (expressed as percent of the predicted value). The corresponding increase in prebronchodilator FEV1 was 2.24% after 1 year and 1.71% after 3 years (p<0.0001 at both timepoints). The effect of treatment on all outcome variables was independent of the baseline lung function (prebronchodilator or postbronchodilator) or baseline medication. In children younger than 11 years, 3-year growth was reduced in the budesonide group by 1.34 cm. The reduction was greatest in the first year of treatment (0.58 cm) than years 2 and 3 (0.43 cm and 0.33 cm, respectively). Long-term, once-daily treatment with low-dose budesonide decreases the risk of severe exacerbations and improves asthma control in patients with mild persistent asthma of recent onset.
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              Prescribing behaviour in clinical practice: patients' expectations and doctors' perceptions of patients' expectations--a questionnaire study.

               S Pit,  J Cockburn (1997)
              To examine the effect of patients' expectations for medication and doctors' perceptions of patients' expectations on prescribing when patients present with new conditions. Questionnaire study of practitioners and patients. General practice in Newcastle, Australia. 22 non-randomly selected general practitioners and 336 of their patients with a newly diagnosed medical condition. Prescription of medication and expectation of it. Medication was prescribed for 169 (50%) patients. After controlling for the presenting condition, patients who expected medication were nearly three times more likely to receive medication (odds ratio = 2.9, 95% confidence interval 1.3 to 6.3). When the general practitioner thought the patient expected medication the patient was 10 times more likely to receive it (odds ratio = 10.1, 5.3 to 19.6). A significant association existed between patients' expectation and doctors' perception of patients' expectation (chi 2 = 52.0, df = 4, P = 0.001). For all categories of patient expectation, however, patients were more likely to receive medication when the practitioner judged the patient to want medication than when the practitioner ascribed no expectation to the patient. Although patients brought expectations to the consultation regarding medication, the doctors' opinions about their expectations were the strongest determinants of prescribing.

                Author and article information

                Cough (London, England)
                BioMed Central (London )
                20 September 2005
                : 1
                : 7
                [1 ]Paediatric Respiratory and Sleep Physician, NHMRC Practitioner Fellow, Associate Professor in Paediatrics and Child Health, Dept of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Children's Hospital, Herston Rd, Brisbane, Queensland 4029, Australia
                Copyright © 2005 Chang; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Respiratory medicine


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