Chronic refractory cough (CRC) is a difficult problem to treat. Speech pathology treatment (SPT) improves symptoms but resolution is incomplete. Centrally acting neuromodulators also improve cough symptoms, but not cough reflex sensitivity, and the effect is short-lived. We hypothesized that combined SPT and centrally acting neuromodulators would have a superior outcome than SPT alone. Our goal was to determine whether combined pregabalin and SPT is more effective than SPT alone.
Randomized placebo controlled trial. Forty patients with CRC were randomly assigned to receive either combined SPT and pregabalin 300 mg daily or combined SPT and placebo. Outcome measures were collected at baseline, end of treatment, and 4 weeks after the end of treatment. Primary outcome measures were cough frequency using the Leicester Cough Monitor, cough severity using a visual analog scale (coughVAS), and cough-related quality of life (QOL) using the Leicester Cough Questionnaire (LCQ).
Cough severity, cough frequency, and cough QOL improved in both groups. The degree of improvement in LCQ and coughVAS was greater with combined SPT and pregabalin than SPT alone; the mean difference in LCQ was 3.5, 95%CI of difference 1.1 to 5.8; the mean difference in coughVAS was 25.1, 95% CI of difference 10.6 to 39.6. There was no significant difference in improvement in cough frequency between groups. There was no deterioration in symptoms once pregabalin was withdrawn. Median capsaicin cough sensitivity improved from 15.7 to 47.5 μM with combined SPT and pregabalin and from 3.92 to 15.7 μM with SPT alone.
Combined SPT and pregabalin reduces symptoms and improves QOL compared with SPT alone in patients with CRC.