Author(s): Kamimura M, Mouri A, Takayama K, Mizutani T, Hamamoto Y
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Challenge tests involving chemical stimulation by inhalation of capsaicin or citric acid are currently used to assess cough sensitivity. We investigated the clinical usefulness of cough challenge tests based on mechanical stimulation.
METHODS: A total of 347 patients (126 men and 221 women) were enrolled in the study, including 161 patients with asthma, 116 with cough-variant asthma, 27 with acute upper respiratory tract viral infections, 25 with acute bronchitis, four with pneumonia, three with chronic bronchitis and 11 with cough of unknown aetiology. Three modes of mechanical stimulation were assessed: the cervical trachea was compressed softly with the fingers several times (tracheal compression test); the trachea was stretched by retroflexion of the neck for 5 s (tracheal stretch test); and a vibrating tuning fork was placed on the cervical trachea for 20 s (tuning fork test). The relationships between phonation-induced cough and the results of these tests were assessed.
RESULTS: The cough detection rate was 27.7% with the tracheal compression test, 39.8% with the tracheal stretch test and 36.9% with the tuning fork test. An itchy sensation with or without cough was noted by about 50% of subjects undergoing each of the tests. Provocation of cough and an itchy sensation during each test was significantly more frequent in subjects with phonation-induced cough. Tests were usually negative after improvement of the cough with treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Mechanical stimulation of the cervical trachea is a feasible cough challenge test that may be useful for evaluating disease activity.