Cough may be the consequence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) and inflammation. This study was designed to investigate the short-term effects of an inhaled steroid (fluticasone propionate (FP)) on cough, and to determine the effects of smoking, BHR, allergy and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) on the efficacy of FP. In a community-based primary healthcare centre, 135 previously healthy adults suffering from cough for > or =2 weeks were enrolled in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of inhaled FP 500 microg b.i.d. for 2 weeks. Participants completed daily diary cards of lower respiratory tract symptoms. The primary outcome measure was the decrease in mean total daily cough score (0-6) during the second week of treatment. In the FP group, the cough score decreased from 3.8 at baseline to mean+/-SEM 1.4+/-0.2 during the second week. In the placebo group, this decrease was from 3.8 to 1.9+/-0.1 and was statistically significantly less. A favourable effect of FP was only detectable in nonsmokers, in whom the score was 0.9 points lower compared with placebo. The clinical relevance of this finding has to be established further. Allergy, FEV1 and BHR at baseline did not affect the efficacy of FP. In conclusion, anti-inflammatory treatment with the inhaled steroid fluticasone propionate reduces cough in otherwise healthy adults who do not smoke.

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The European Respiratory Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Ponsioen, B., Hop, W., Vermue, N. A., Dekhuijzen, R., & Bohnen, A. (2005). Efficacy of fluticasone on cough: a randomised controlled trial. The European Respiratory Journal, 25(1), 147–152. doi:10.1183/09031936.04.00053604