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HKBU clinical study finds an overall efficacy rate of 80% in Chinese medicine treatment of chronic cough

22 Nov 2016

Ms Ji Fengxia announces the clinical observation results which find that the overall efficacy rate of the Chinese medicine treatment of chronic cough is 80%.
Ms Ji Fengxia announces the clinical observation results which find that the overall efficacy rate of the Chinese medicine treatment of chronic cough is 80%.
Traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of chronic cough.
Traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of chronic cough.

The School of Chinese Medicine (SCM) of HKBU recently conducted a clinical study on Chinese medicine treatment of chronic cough. The results indicated that the overall efficacy rate of the Chinese medicine treatment for this disease is 80%.

The basic definition of a chronic cough is coughing that lasts for eight weeks or more, with persistent coughing as the major symptom. Chronic cough is a common respiratory disease in Hong Kong, and with its high incidence in recent years. Patients who cough frequently find it difficult to suppress dry coughing. Recurrence of this condition is one that is commonly observed. It can seriously affect the quality of life of patients with an impact on both their physical and mental health. 

Ms Ji Fengxia, Senior Lecturer of the SCM Clinical Division at HKBU, conducted a clinical observation of 130 patients who attended HKBU Chinese medicine clinics for chronic cough treatment from January 2012 to March 2016. Of them, 32 were male and 98 were female. A higher occurrence rate of this disease was observed in patients aged 40 or above.

The observation indicated that of the 130 patients receiving Chinese medicine treatment for chronic cough, 39 of them (30%) recovered, while an improvement was observed in 66 patients (50.77%). In general, the study showed an overall efficacy rate of 80.77% for the treatment.

It was commonly observed that over 70% of the patients, chronic cough was initiated by four common types of syndrome, namely upper respiratory cough syndrome, cough-variant asthma, eosinophilic bronchitis and gastroesophageal reflux cough. Ms Ji explained that although there were multiple factors inducing chronic cough, common syndromes included a highly sensitive air passage usually with a dry and itchy nasal passage, high coughing frequency with or without phlegm, and coughing that is easily induced or aggravated by cold air, gaseous and other inducers. Chronic cough is not usually related to infections, while the therapeutic effects of general expectorants and antitussives, as well as treatment by antibiotics, were not satisfactory.

Categories of chronic cough are “prolonged cough” and “intractable cough”. Regarding the syndrome differentiation, it was demonstrated that the largest number of patients, a total of 61 (46.92%), were diagnosed with “yin and qi deficiencies”, while the second largest, amounting to 29 patients (22.31%), were diagnosed with “lung and spleen qi deficiencies”. These 90 patients accounted for 69.23% of the total under observation. The treatment method of invigorating qi and nourishing the yin can have a satisfactory effect in these clinical scenarios.

Ms Ji indicated that the advantages of using Chinese medicine treatment for chronic cough lie in the high degree of personalised and precise diagnosis involved and the treatment methods of syndromes. She also cited the special Chinese medicine prescriptions that use a formula involving multiple steps, many components, and many target effects in order to improve the patient’s bodily constitution. 

Ms Ji added that most of the patients with chronic cough also show a certain level of yin and qi deficiencies, or spleen and lung qi deficiencies. As a result they may feel cold and easily start coughing. She reminded patients that in order to reduce the occurrence of the disease, they should keep their bodies warm, avoid over-exertion, do more exercise, improve physical fitness and modify their diet.