A new study published in the European Respiratory Journal has found that people with a long term (chronic) cough that does not get better with treatment (known as a refractory cough) are less able to stop themselves coughing compared to those without the condition. This may help researchers to find out what causes long term cough so they can understand how it might be better treated.
This study looked at how much people with chronic refractory cough (CRC) are able to stop themselves coughing, compared to people without the condition.
The researchers asked both groups to breathe in capsaicin whilst trying to stop themselves from coughing. Capsaicin is a chilli pepper extract that normally causes coughing. The test was repeated under different conditions and at different times.
People with CRC were less able to suppress their cough compared to those without the condition, and much less capsaicin was needed to make them cough.
The researchers also showed that for people without CRC, much more capsaicin was needed to cause coughing when they were trying not to cough, compared to when they were not. For people with CRC, the amount of capsaicin needed to cause coughing was very similar in both tests.
This difference was so marked that researchers were able to identify patients with CRC compared to those without, just by using the results of the test.
These results could help researchers to investigate what causes CRC, which could result in better treatment for those affected by it. More research is needed to confirm the results of this study by testing a larger group of people.
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