The use of neuralgia medications to treat sensory neuropathic cough: our experience in a retrospective cohort of thirty-two patients
Objective. This study sought to: (1) quantify response rate and efficacy of amitriptyline, desipramine, and gabapentin in treating sensory neuropathic cough; and (2) describe an efficient treatment protocol.
Study Design. This study is a retrospective case series.
Methods. Persons diagnosed with sensory neuropathic cough during a one-year period were potential study candidates. To bolster the diagnosis credibility, only persons who had been treated elsewhere for gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, and allergy with no reduction of cough were included. Upon diagnosis of sensory neuropathic cough, each person was treated with either amitriptyline, desipramine, or gabapentin, titrating the dose upward to desired benefit or the dose limit. If the benefit was insufficient, another of the medications was used next, using a similar dose escalation strategy. Data points included patient demographics, initial and final medication, final dose, and degree of improvement.
Results. 32 patients met the diagnostic and inclusion criteria and had a complete data set. 94% (30 of 32) of the patients responded to at least one of the medications. The 32 patients undertook a total of 45 single-medication trials. Patients reported symptom relief during 78% (14 of 18) of amitriptyline trials, 73% (11 of 15) of desipramine trials, and 83% (10 of 12) of gabapentin trials. At final dosage, symptom reduction averaged 77% on amitriptyline, 73% on desipramine, and 69% on gabapentin.
Conclusion. Amitriptyline, desipramine, and gabapentin appear to vary in their effectiveness for individual cases of sensory neuropathic cough; across a whole cohort, symptom relief was similar in frequency and degree on any of the three medications. More evidence is needed to demonstrate more convincingly the effectiveness of these medications, but this data set suggests that each of these three medications deserves consideration in the codified treatment protocol presented here.