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BACKGROUND: Patients with idiopathic chronic cough and unexplained airflow obstruction in non-smokers have been shown to have an increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and other organ specific autoimmune disorders. Whether patients with hypothyroidism have an increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms is unknown. METHODS: The prevalence of respiratory symptoms was assessed in 124 patients with treated hypothyroidism recruited from primary and secondary care, 64 outpatients with inflammatory bowel disease, and 1346 control adults recruited randomly from the electoral register in a case-control study. Respiratory symptoms and smoking history were assessed by a respiratory symptom questionnaire. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, sex and smoking, symptoms of breathlessness and sputum production were more prevalent in both patient populations than in controls (odds ratios for hypothyroidism and inflammatory bowel disease; breathlessness: 3.1 (95% CI 2.1 to 4.6) and 3.4 (95% CI 2.0 to 6.0), respectively; sputum production: 2.7 (95% CI 1.6 to 4.5) and 2.5 (95% CI 1.2 to 5.0), respectively). Cough during the day and night was significantly more prevalent in patients with hypothyroidism (1.8 (95% CI 1.2 to 2.9)) and approached significance in those with inflammatory bowel disease (1.8 (95% CI 1.0 to 3.4)). Wheeze and nocturnal cough were no more prevalent in either disease population than in controls. CONCLUSION: There is a significantly increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms in patients with hypothyroidism or inflammatory bowel disease compared with controls recruited from the general population. Further work is required to determine whether similar differences are seen in comparison with hospital based controls. These findings support the hypothesis that there is a link between autoimmune hypothyroidism and respiratory disease.


Journal article



Publication Date





533 - 536


Airway Obstruction, Cough, Female, Humans, Hypothyroidism, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Odds Ratio, Respiratory Sounds