Tracking your cough helps you identify the correlation between your cough and factors that may influence it, such as time of day or environment. Learn more about cough correlation and how to track your cough.
Ultimate Guide to Cough Correlation and Tracking
Benefits of Cough Tracking and Identifying Cough Correlation
Before we get to the benefits, let’s look at coughing as a symptom first. It’s one of the main reasons for someone to visit a doctor. Yet, your doctor might only ask a question or two about your cough before moving on to other symptoms.
A cough is a significant symptom, but most people can’t describe their cough, when it started, or how much they’re coughing. Usually, a patient guesses at the answer. And as a result, your doctor might move on to measurable symptoms to make a diagnosis.
Unlike most symptoms, it’s not easy to objectively measure a cough. Cough tracking helps quantify it.
If a cough is your only symptom, a diagnosis may take longer. Because there are no other clues to go on, you’ll have to get a battery of tests or go through a lengthy elimination process.
That’s where cough correlation can come in handy. By tracking your cough, your doctor might notice a trend that helps diagnose your condition.
For example, only coughing at night or after a meal could indicate acid reflux. Meaning you can skip some tests and go straight to tests that confirm this.
Once you have a diagnosis, cough correlation may show triggers, which can help you manage your condition better. Identifying cough correlation can also help you understand your illness better and empower you to be more proactive.
Most importantly, you can monitor your cough for any changes. In other words, you can see if treatment is working or if your condition is getting worse. Early intervention is crucial with many diseases, and the sooner you notice changes, the sooner you can seek help.
Acute Cough Correlation and Tracking
An acute cough lasts less than three weeks. It’s mostly because of something simple like the common cold or allergies. However, tracking it can still be beneficial.
If you have a cold, you won’t need to track an acute cough extensively. That is to say, noting duration, frequency, and type could give you valuable data.
For example, create a cough tracker in your journal starting on the day you first notice your cough. Note down the type of cough (wet or dry) for each day and add any symptoms you experience in addition to the cough. This way, if you do visit your doctor, you have concrete data to share.
It’s useful for other acute coughs to add more detail, such as where you are when you cough or what you were doing when a coughing fit started. It can help pinpoint the cause of your cough.
It can take some time to build the habit of noting down cough information, and most people forget to do it consistently. Additionally, an acute cough doesn’t last long enough to give statistically significant data if you only track one bout.
In some cases, like seasonal allergies, you might only see a cough correlation after tracking several bouts.
Chronic Cough Correlation and Tracking
Tracking chronic conditions are more detailed and disease-specific. The reason for monitoring your cough will shape how you track changes and what details you include.
Asthma, Allergies, or Undiagnosed Conditions
Asthma and allergy triggers are different for everyone. For this reason, you want to identify anything that may set off a coughing fit to minimize exposure to it.
Here are some things to keep track of to help identify cough triggers:
- What you were doing before a bout of coughing.
- Where you are when you start coughing.
- The time of day.
- Keep a food and drinks journal.
- Include information about any medication you take.
- Note down any smells that stand out, such as perfume, flowers, or smoke.
- Make a note of any animals you encounter.
- Keep track of how much you sleep and the quality of sleep.
Also, write down how you feel two or three times throughout the day. Sometimes your emotional state may exacerbate coughing.
The list of things to track is quite extensive, and a symptom tracking template may help. You can start with only a few things then add more items as time goes on.
The data you collect can offer valuable insight, help manage your condition, and monitor changes.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Cough tracking is vital in managing COPD. Because this disease becomes progressively worse, early intervention may slow down deterioration and improve your outlook.
When tracking COPD, note down your energy levels and sleep details, and frequency and intensity.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
It’s mostly your lifestyle and habits that worsen GERD symptoms. Identifying and changing these factors may alleviate some symptoms.
Here’s what to keep tabs on:
- Portion sizes
- Food choices
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Smoking or vaping
It will also help to monitor your symptoms after any lifestyle changes. That way, you can see if the changes are working or if you’ll need to explore other treatments.
Cough correlation and tracking your cough has many benefits. While it may seem overwhelming at first, taking notes is a great way to track your cough.
Did we miss anything? How do you track your cough? Let us know in the comment section!