Prevalence and Burden of Chronic Cough in the United States

Eli O. Meltzer, Robert S. Zeiger, Peter Dicpinigaitis, Jonathan A. Bernstein, John J. Oppenheimer, Nate A. Way, Vicky W. Li, Robert Boggs, Michael J. Doane, Eduardo Urdaneta, Jessica P. Weaver, Jonathan Schelfhout, Eileen Fonseca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic cough is a common complaint but there are little population-based data on its burden in the United States. Objective: To determine the prevalence of chronic cough and its burden on individuals and the health care system. Methods: This was a survey of respondents who completed the 2018 National Health and Wellness Survey and questions about sleep and health care resource use. Chronic cough was defined as having a daily cough for 8 or more weeks. Respondents without chronic cough were selected through propensity score matching. Chronic cough prevalence was estimated using poststratification sampling weights calculated using U.S. Census data and post-data Horvitz-Thompson sampling weights to adjust for sampling bias. Results: Of 74,977 National Health and Wellness Survey respondents, 3,654 had experienced chronic cough in the previous 12 months, for a weighted prevalence of 5.0%. Respondents with chronic cough were older and more predominantly female than respondents without chronic cough (both P <.001). Compared with matched respondents without chronic cough, those with chronic cough had lower mean scores on the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Survey v2 physical (P <.001) and mental (P <.001) component summary scores. More respondents with chronic cough than matched controls experienced severe anxiety and severe depression in the past 2 weeks, work productivity impairment, impaired sleep quality and daytime sleepiness, as well as more emergency department visits and hospitalizations in the past 6 months (P <.001 for all comparisons). Conclusions: The burden of chronic cough manifests itself as reduced health-related quality of life, increased anxiety and depression, impaired sleep and work productivity, and greater health care utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4037-4044.e2
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic disease
  • Cough
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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