Within the large variety of subtypes of chronic cough, either defined by their clinical or pathogenetic causes, occupational chronic cough may be regarded as one of the most preventable forms of the disease. Next to obstructive airway diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which are sometimes concomitant with chronic cough, this chronic airway disease gains importance in the field of occupational medicine since classic fiber-related occupational airway diseases will decrease in the future.
Apart from acute accidents and incidental exposures which may lead to an acute form of cough, there are numerous sources for the development of chronic cough within the workplace. Over the last years, a large number of studies has focused on occupational causes of respiratory diseases and it has emerged that chronic cough is one of the most prevalent work-related airway diseases. Best-known examples of occupations related to the development of cough are coal miners, hard-rock miners, tunnel workers, or concrete manufacturing workers.
As chronic cough is often based on a variety of non-occupational factors such as tobacco smoke, a distinct separation into either occupational or personally -evoked can be difficult. However, revealing the occupational contribution to chronic cough and to the symptom cough in general, which is the commonest cause for the consultation of a physician, can significantly lead to a reduction of the socioeconomic burden of the disease.