Coughing is part of daily life, yet we don’t know much about cough frequency. We explore the available research, look at cough tracking, and why cough frequency matters.
What do we know about cough frequency?
We’ve coughed countless times throughout our lives, both involuntarily and voluntarily.
There are different types of cough, ranging from acute to chronic coughs, and dry to productive. Doctors can map out the diagnosis and potential treatment based on the severity of each cough.
A doctor may ask a patient how often they cough. But, tracking cough frequency is difficult.
Firstly, we don’t always notice when we cough, and we lack tools to track the frequency and monitor for changes as well.
We also don’t have literature to reference what should be considered a deviant from the norm.
We can find out why we cough and how to treat a cough with a quick Google search. It can even tell us how long a cough should last. All this information is helpful as an immediate, self-diagnostic tool. However, some details may indicate a more specific connection.
For example, if I cough for 5 minutes every morning, am I clearing my sinuses, or is it indicative of an infection?
And, it’s not only cough frequency that’s important. When measuring coughs, we should take the time of day into account as well.
In some cases, we cough more at night while lying down. In others, the environment might be the reason for Coughing.
Studies About The Rate of Cough
As it turns out, we don’t know a lot about cough frequency.
A 1996 study by Paul Munyard et al. tried to address these concerns in healthy children. The study tracked the number of cough episodes per 24 hours to determine a cough baseline. In other words, they wanted to know the standard amount of coughs per day for a child who is not sick.
Furthermore, they evaluated the number of coughs per hour.
To track coughs, researchers used a device called an RGB-7. It connects to an individual and takes ECG and EMG readings. Additionally, it takes recordings of the user’s audio activities.
From the looks of it, a person had to carry a bulky and intrusive piece of equipment around.
According to their findings, coughing between 11 and 35 times per day is typical.
Another study in 1994 also examined similar potential usage of an ambulatory recorder. This device counted coughs and converted them to comprehensive readings of units called “forced expiratory volume.”
Researchers studied healthy individuals as well as those with asthma or chronic coughs. They found healthy individuals coughed less than 16 times a day. Asthmatic and chronic cough patients coughed between 280 and 790 a day.
While these studies are valuable, they don’t address the full scope of Coughing. Additionally, the results varied widely.
More recent studies focus on cough frequency related to specific conditions.
In short, the available literature on how much we cough is from outdated studies or restrictive data. The mechanisms don’t apply to the present-day needs of the population.
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Tracking Cough Frequency
It’s vital to track cough frequency, especially with respiratory conditions.
With conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), people need to keep track of their coughs. They should monitor how often they cough, as well as the severity of each cough. Finally, they should note that factors, such as exercise or environment, could have been a trigger.
It may also be helpful if medicated patients could assess and track coughing metrics. For instance, a patient should monitor the intensity and frequency of a cough before using an inhaler versus after.
By tracking the frequency and severity of a cough, doctors may be able to customize treatment.
Additionally, tracking a cough can pinpoint situations that worsen coughs. Firstly, an individual can then avoid these situations or take precautions to reduce the impact. Patients can also become more empowered and less restricted by their condition.
The benefits of tracking coughs go beyond treating respiratory conditions. It can also help people be more aware of their health. As a result, doctors may be able to diagnose and treat illnesses earlier and more effectively.
Daily Cough Rate in the Time of Corona
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many notions about coughing to light. Some of which are untrue. In some cases, it leads to scrutiny or even discrimination while in a public space.
On the other hand, it has illuminated the importance of cough tracking.
A technology that tracks coughs in individuals can provide an understanding of what different coughing frequencies may indicate.
Hopefully, the pandemic motivates more scientific studies related to Coughing. More specifically, different types of coughs and the implications of each variety. And in the future, we’ll have more data available as reference tools.
Overall, there are many things we don’t know about cough frequency. But, we have learned a lot about the importance of cough tracking. There are many benefits to health tracking. Lastly, COVID-19 might have taught something: something seemingly unimportant like a cough can have a massive impact.
What are your thoughts on health tracking? Tell us in the comment section below!