There is no evidence that medications for persistent cough help patients, researchers have said.
A study team from the University of Basel carried out a systematic review into the effectiveness of drugs used to treat persistent cough and found none were beneficial.
The paper, published in the BJGP, analysed six randomised control trials – including 724 patients – which assessed the benefits and harms of seven different treatment regimens for subacute cough.
The treatments were montelukast, salbutamol plus ipratropium bromide, oral gelatine, fluticasone propionate, budesonide, and nociception opioid 1 receptor agonist and codeine.
However, they found that no treatment option benefitted cough recovery or other patient-relevant outcomes – such as lung function, absence from work, and perception of improvement – at 14 days or 28 days.
Adverse events were reported for 14% of patients across all treatments but the researchers also noted that the reporting quality within the studies was ‘frequently poor’.
The paper said: ‘Overall, this systematic review clearly emphasises the limited available evidence on therapeutic options for subacute cough.
‘However, it also shows that the symptoms diminish over time as a natural course of the self-limiting disease.’
It added: ‘This review indicates that, despite being one of the most common causes for seeking medical advice in primary care, there is no beneficial treatment for subacute cough.’