Coughing may signal trouble for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered that patients with the condition who also cough are more likely to develop advanced forms of the disease that may be life threatening. Their findings appear in the journal Respirology.

Almost all patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis experience shortness of breath; however, the second most common symptoms is cough. While shortness of breath is a known warning sign that a patient has a serious form of the disease, little is known about the importance of cough.

To investigate the role of cough, researchers looked at 242 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and found that cough was present in 84% of them. It was more common in patients with advanced disease and in those who had never smoked. The researchers also found that the presence of cough predicted more rapid disease progression, regardless of the severity of a patient’s disease. The study’s findings indicate that the presence of cough may predict which patients are likely to die prematurely or need a lung transplant in the near future.

The researchers concluded that patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis who cough may have a worse prognosis compared with patients who do not cough. While additional studies are needed to validate the results, patients who cough may benefit from closer monitoring and more aggressive treatments.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell