Methods: An Internet survey exploring cough attributes in respondents who had contracted the common cold within the last 3 months was fielded in April 2015. Those with chronic cough were excluded. Demographics, urge to cough attributes and impact, and management choices were elicited.
Results: Of 19,530 screened, 2,708 met inclusion/exclusion criteria; 58% female; 85% white; 19% smoked tobacco; 8% used e-cigarettes. Urge to cough was experienced by 97.8% of respondents and was uncontrollable in 64%. Uncontrollability of urge to cough (62%), throat clearing (40.4%), and sore throat (35.6%) were the most bothersome aspects. Common triggers included talking, cold air, or changing position. Attempts to prevent/treat urge to cough occurred in 74.3%; over-the-counter (OTC) drugs/syrups or lozenges were at least somewhat effective in 83% and 78%, respectively. Prescriptions were used by 12.9%, and 89% felt they were “somewhat” or “very” effective. Healthcare provider (HCP) advice was elicited by 16% and received by 86%. Advice included prescription medications (66.5%), OTC medications (45.7%), herbal remedies (15.1%), and home remedies (12.6%); 96% followed HCP advice.
Conclusions: Urge to cough frequently accompanies the common cold. This Internet survey provided characterization of urge to cough attributes. Enhanced understanding of cough perception may lead to insights relevant to novel therapy.