Up to 10% of adults worldwide experience symptoms with no clear underlying cause.
Some suffer for decades and there is currently no effective treatment.
Researchers at the University of Manchester said a clinical trial resulted in a significant reduction in patients’ symptoms.
Experts said the use of a potential new drug, Gefapixant (MK-7264), appeared to result in a notable decrease in symptoms.
A total of 253 men and women from the US and UK who had suffered from a cough – but were otherwise healthy – that had been unresponsive to treatment for an average of 14.5 years were recruited for the 12-week trial.
They were either given a placebo or Gefapixant twice a day for 84 days but were not told which, and were given doses of either 7.5mg, 20mg or 50mg.
Before the trial, patients reported that they coughed around 24-29 times per hour.
Following 12 weeks of treatment, those being given the drug reported a reduction to, on average, 11 coughs per hour.
Long-lasting coughs can indicate a number of health problems, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects millions of people, or even cancer.
Lung cancer claims 35,300 lives a year in the UK according to Cancer Research UK, partly because it is often diagnosed late.
But the main symptom is a chronic cough – although most instances of this will not be due to cancer.
Vũ Quốc Duy M.D.