30 May 2018
Chronic cough can be a dominant symptom of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), although its clinical impact remains unclear. The aim of our study was to identify phenotypic differences according to the presence of chronic cough or sputum and evaluate the impact of chronic cough on the risk of acute exacerbation of COPD (AECOPD).
In a nationwide COPD cohort including 1,613 COPD patients, patients with chronic cough only, those with sputum only, those with chronic bronchitis (CB), and those without cough and sputum were compared with regard to dyspnea, lung function, quality of life (QoL), and risk of AECOPD.
The rates of chronic cough, chronic sputum, and both were 23.4%, 32.4%, and 18.2%, respectively. Compared with patients without chronic cough, those with chronic cough exhibited a lower forced expiratory volume in 1 second (% predicted) and diffusing capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide (% predicted), more frequent AECOPD, more severe dyspnea, and worse QoL. Pulmonary function, dyspnea severity, and QoL worsened in the following order: without cough or sputum, with sputum only, with cough only, and with CB. Multivariate analyses revealed chronic cough as an independent risk factor for a lower lung function, more severe dyspnea, and a poor QoL. Moreover, the risk of future AECOPD was significantly associated with chronic cough (odds ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.08–2.24), but not with chronic sputum.