What is it about?

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are long-term lung diseases that make it hard to breathe. People with asthma or COPD (or both) can have shared common symptoms, such as shortness of breath, coughing and bringing up mucus (phlegm). A cough that brings up mucus is also sometimes called a ‘productive cough’ or a ‘wet cough’. We have proposed ‘frequent productive cough’ as a new term to describe coughing and bringing up mucus most or several days a week over the last 3 months. In this study, we looked at frequent productive cough in a large group of people with asthma or COPD (or both) from 18 countries, and we found that almost one-third of these people had frequent productive cough. Frequent productive cough was more common in people with more severe disease, worse lung function and a history of breathing in pollution at home or work. People with frequent productive cough were also more likely to experience a flare-up or attack in the future. This included flare-ups where people were admitted to hospital or needed treatment with oral steroids or antibiotics.

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Why is it important?

Frequent productive cough is common in people with asthma or COPD (or both). These symptoms are not only troublesome in daily life but are also linked with more severe disease. Doctors should ask about and actively manage these symptoms to improve their patients’ health. Research is also needed to identify new treatments to help treat or prevent these symptoms, regardless of their disease diagnosis.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Frequent productive cough: Symptom burden and future exacerbation risk among patients with asthma and/or COPD in the NOVELTY study, Respiratory Medicine, August 2022, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.rmed.2022.106921.
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