Chronic productive cough in young adults is very often due to chronic rhino-sinusitis.

Monaldi archives for chest disease = Archivio Monaldi per le malattie del torace / Fondazione clinica del lavoro, IRCCS [and] Istituto di clinica tisiologica e malattie apparato respiratorio, Universita di Napoli, Secondo ateneo

PubMedID: 17695692

Corsico AG, Villani S, Zoia MC, Niniano R, Ansaldo E, Cervio G, Quaresima PM, Gatto E, Crippa E, Marinoni A, Foresi A, Pozzi E, Cerveri I. Chronic productive cough in young adults is very often due to chronic rhino-sinusitis. Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2007;67(2):90-4.
Chronic productive cough is a common clinical problem; often potential causes outside the lower respiratory tract are forgotten or ignored. The aim of this study was to make a precise etiopathogenetic diagnosis of chronic productive cough in young adults.

In a clinical setting, 212 subjects (mean age 41+/-5 years) who had reported chronic productive cough in a previous postal survey of a young adult population underwent within two years clinical and functional investigations following a rational diagnostic approach. Two pulmonologists independently established the diagnosis using a clinically structured interview on nasal and respiratory symptoms, spirometry and other tests when appropriate (bronchodilator test or methacholine bronchial challenge, chest radiography); if rhino-sinusitis was suspected, subjects underwent an ENT examination with nasal endoscopy and/or sinus computed tomography.

At the end of the diagnostic procedure, 87 subjects (41%) no longer had chronic productive cough and had normal function. Fifty-eight subjects (27%) had chronic rhino-sinusitis; seventeen subjects (8%) had asthma, and of these fourteen also had chronic rhino-sinusitis; 50 subjects (24%) had COPD stage 0+, of these seven also had chronic rhino-sinusitis. Chronic rhino-sinusitis was more frequent in females than in males (p<0.05).

Both in clinical practice and in epidemiological studies, it is important to consider that the origin of chronic productive cough could be frequently outside the lower respiratory tract; a consistent percentage of young adults with persistent productive cough has indeed chronic rhino-sinusitis.