In a 12-country study, approximately one-fifth of adult patients without an established diagnosis of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease consulting their family physician for acute cough showed subsequent airway obstruction or bronchodilator responsiveness, both of which are suggestive of undiagnosed asthma or COPD.
Analyzing data on 3,105 adult patients with acute cough in primary care practices in 12 European countries, researchers found 240 patients (12 percent) showed bronchodilator responsiveness and 193 patients (10 percent) had obstructive spirometry according to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease grading system.
The authors conclude that because both asthma and COPD benefit from appropriate and timely interventions, including pharmacological and lifestyle modifications, such as quitting smoking, clinicians should be aware and responsive to potential underdiagnosis.
Additionally, they note that detection of asthma and COPD may help reduce unnecessary use of antibiotics in patients with acute cough.
Airway Obstruction and Bronchodilator Responsiveness in Adults with Acute Cough By Saskia van Vugt MD, MSc, et al