The following article features coverage from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting. Click here to read more of MPR‘s conference coverage.

For patients with sensory neuropathic cough (SNC), topical capsaicin spray may be an effective alternative therapeutic option, according to findings presented at the AAO-HNSF 2021 Annual Meeting.

To assess the benefits and harms associated with topical capsaicin treatment, the study authors performed a retrospective review on 253 SNC patients at a tertiary care laryngology practice who received capsaicin throat spray between December 2005 and April 2020. Patients were instructed to utilize the spray 4 times daily for at least 2 weeks prior to reporting their results. Patient-reported percentage cough reduction and side effects were the main outcomes of interest.

Of the total patients included in the analysis (n=201), 63.7% reported experiencing some benefit from capsaicin treatment, with 62 patients (30.8%) reporting greater than 75% reduction in cough. With regard to safety, 78.3% of all patients said they had no side effects or complications with treatment. Unpleasant local effects such as throat and ear discomfort, voice change, sneezing, vomiting, and headache were reported among the remaining patients.

Based on their findings, the study authors concluded that, “pending further study, [capsaicin spray] might be offered as an option to patients with SNC who do not respond to other therapies, or for patients who prefer nonpharmacologic treatments for their cough.”   


Hoesli R, Wajsberg B, Bastian RW. Topical capsaicin for the treatment of sensory neuropathic cough. Presented at: AAO-HNSF 2021 Annual Meeting; October 3-6, 2021; Los Angeles, CA.