Cough classification

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Abiodun Akanmode,M.D.[2]


The accurate classification of cough is the first step to accurately diagnosing it. in 1998 the American college of chest physicians (CHEST), Expert cough panel postulated that cough should be classified based on its duration. Prior to this, a detailed patient history about the character, timing, sputum production, etc was utilized when evaluating cough; however, the panel found out that these parameters are not sufficient in establishing a definite etiology of cough.

The first expert panel in 1998 had initially classified cough as acute cough( ie lasting < 3 weeks) and chronic cough (ie, lasting 3-8 weeks) but the second American college of chest physicians ACCP panel in 2006 reclassified cough into 3 categories based on its duration as listed below.


Cough may be classified into 3 groups:[1]

  • Acute coughs last less than 3 weeks.
  • Subacute coughs last between 3 and 8 weeks.
  • Chronic coughs last longer than 8 weeks.

2006 ACCP Cough Panel classification based on duration.[2]

Acute cough (lasting < 3 weeks)
Subacute cough (lasting 3-8 weeks)
Chronic cough (lasting > 8 weeks)


  1. Irwin RS, French CL, Chang AB, Altman KW, CHEST Expert Cough Panel* (2018). "Classification of Cough as a Symptom in Adults and Management Algorithms: CHEST Guideline and Expert Panel Report". Chest. 153 (1): 196–209. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2017.10.016. PMC 6689094 Check |pmc= value (help). PMID 29080708.
  2. Irwin RS, Boulet LP, Cloutier MM, Fuller R, Gold PM, Hoffstein V; et al. (1998). "Managing cough as a defense mechanism and as a symptom. A consensus panel report of the American College of Chest Physicians". Chest. 114 (2 Suppl Managing): 133S–181S. doi:10.1378/chest.114.2_supplement.133s. PMID 9725800 PMID: 9725800 Check |pmid= value (help).

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