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Causes of Cough Differ in Adults and Children

Adult-based diagnostic and treatment methods may be unsuitable for use with children

WEDNESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- The management of chronic cough should be approached differently in adults and children because the causes of cough are so different between the two groups of patients, according to a study published in the May issue of Chest.

Julie M. Marchant, M.B.B.S., of the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues conducted a study of 108 young children with a median age of 2.6 years and a history of more than three weeks' cough. Ninety-six of the children (89 percent) had wet cough, and in 49 cases (45.4 percent), BAL fluid samples obtained during bronchoscopy led to a diagnosis.

In 43 cases (39.8 percent), the final diagnosis was protracted bacterial bronchitis, making it the most common cause of cough among the children. The common causes of cough in adults -- asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and upper airway cough syndrome (UACS) -- were found in less than 10 percent of the cohort of young children.

"The adult-based anatomic pathway, which involves the investigation and treatment of patients with asthma, GERD and UACS first, is largely unsuitable for use in the management of chronic cough in young children as the common etiologies of chronic cough in children are different from those in adults," the authors conclude.

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