Sleep apnoea sufferers who have chronic cough may experience a “significantly impaired” quality of life, says a new report in the European Respiratory Journal. Researchers in England and Australia studied 108 patients that had been referred specifically for sleep-related respiratory problems, and found that chronic cough could be the cause of wider health issues. Looking at a sub-group of 55 patients who had no immediate causes for respiratory problems (such as smoking), the team found that a third suffered from chronic cough. Of those with chronic cough, it was found that other health problems were more frequent as a result, including nocturnal heartburn and rhinitis.
Chronic cough, which is more prevalent in women, can often be the only symptom of sleep apnoea.
“Chronic cough is prevalent in patients with SDB (sleep apnoea) and impacts on their quality of life,” said the report. “SDB cough is not well recognised by physicians and it is possible that some patients referred to specialist clinic for investigation of the cough are misdiagnosed. It is important to recognise SDB cough because preliminary reports suggest it responds well to specific therapy for SDB.”