What is it?

Cough-variant asthma is a form of asthma in which the primary symptom is a dry, non-productive cough. The symptoms differ from symptoms of other conditions of asthma. Sometimes, cough-variant asthma- especially when not properly treated - is a precursor to classic asthma in which shortness of breath, wheezing, and a wet, productive cough accompany chest pain.

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Signs & symptoms

Cough-variant asthma is confusing because it doesn't have many features of asthma. A chronic, non-productive cough is the distinguishing feature, but there are not usually other typical signs or symptoms of asthma. Cough-variant asthma should be suspected if:
- Bouts of coughing awaken from sleep
- Coughing fits after exercise
- Coughing worsens in cold, dry weather
- Hay fever or exposure to dust or pet dander sets off a coughing episode


Cough-variant asthma can be misdiagnosed, and it is a difficult diagnosis to confirm. Asthma is mainly diagnosed based on symptoms, medical history, and lung function tests. These tests, called pulmonary function tests (PFTs), measure the capacity of the lungs and the force of exhalations after exposure to different substances. Other tests may be considered, as needed.


The treatment of cough-variant asthma is virtually the same as for classic asthma. If the symptoms are mild and intermittent, an albuterol inhaler may be all that is needed. If the symptoms are persistent, an inhaled corticosteroid like Flovent (fluticasone) may be used daily to reduce airway inflammation hyperresponsiveness.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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