Cough as a Presenting Symptom in General Practice
Cough is a common presenting symptom in primary care. It has a prevalence of 30% in the general European population, and in a US National Medical Case Survey in 1991 cough was the commonest presenting complaint. Between 10% and 38% of all new patient referrals to UK hospital chest clinics are for chronic cough. This article covers the physiological nature of cough and its role as an essential protective reflex, focuses on the differential diagnosis of cough in general practice in both adults and children, and discusses the use of treatment as a diagnostic tool.