Occasional coughing is normal and healthy. You may have allergies, be in a dry room, or even have a piece of the granola bar you just ate stuck in your throat. But sometimes the cough is the result of something a bit more serious. How do you know when to get worried?
Coughing Up The Data
The recent pandemic has health officials racing to test people for COVID-19. Experts say that one of the earliest symptoms of the novel coronavirus is a dry cough. Some questions a doctor would ask to determine your cough’s cause and severity would be:
- When did the cough begin?
- How long has it lasted?
- During which part of the day is the cough at its worst?
Digitally tracking your own cough – and pairing this data with symptoms – could quickly help your doctor make a diagnosis. A device that recorded your coughs could see how many times you woke up in the night to cough. You might not think about how often you cough throughout the day, but this data should not be overlooked.
Not to mention, a doctor visit in this case would be unnecessary. The recording technology could send data to your doctor without the need for you to leave your home and risk infecting others or prolonging your sickness.
Looking Out For Your Loved Ones
If you have loved ones – parents or grandparents, for example – that you’d like to keep an eye on from afar while self-isolating, you can. An array of circumstances exists as to why you might want to oversee your family’s symptoms. With this technology, their coughing could be monitored on your device the same way that you would monitor your own. If you were to notice an increase in coughing from one of your loved ones, you’d know to be keen and possibly seek medical attention for them.
Routing The Illness And Diagnosing From A Distance
At the brink of the pandemic, governments had to scramble to open phone lines and online self-assessments for people who believed that they might have COVID-19. Had certain technologies been in place, health experts could have virtually watched the virus spread, and then stopped it. Amidst an outbreak – whether it be COVID-19 or a regular flu season – health experts could use this technology to observe higher reports of coughing in affected areas, using the device’s data to find a correlation between when the symptom started, how quickly it spread, and then its possible origin.
Test kits for coronavirus are limited. More are on the way, but in the beginning of an outbreak it’s important for health experts to administer as many tests as possible so that they know what they’re dealing with. This is our best approach, but it feels clumsy in contrast to what is possible. It’s expensive and time consuming. Hospitals and clinics get flooded with potentially sick patients in hopes of a test. But if doctors already knew where the sick patients were, those patients could stay put, and – if the device’s data called for it – have the doctors come to them.
New technology may not replace tests, but it could certainly assist in the knowledge of when and where to use those tests. If applied correctly, this technology gives health experts the foresight needed to thwart an outbreak – and, as we’ve seen, they need all the help they can get.