Diurnal and seasonal variation of cough episodes in healthy young adults Academic Article uri icon


  • Setting: We developed an algorithm to assess recorded cough episodes and differentiate them from similar, non-cough sounds. Objective: To measure cough episodes in healthy young adults, cigarette smokers and non-smokers over a 24-hours recording period, during the course of normal activity. Design: The study subjects were students, aged 20-40 years old. 24-hour sound recordings were conducted by a portable recorder. Analysis used an algorithm that was developed and tested in the study. Results: Seventy students were recruited. Recordings included 2,628 cough episodes in 1,704 hours of recording. The cough detection algorithm successfully detected 88.5% of recorded cough episodes and 95.6% of non-cough sounds. There was a clear tendency for more coughs among smokers. Autumn was the season with the highest mean cough episodes per day (58.65), while summer had the lowest (14.19). There was a strong correlation between self-reported cough episodes and recorded coughs. Cough episodes were significantly more frequent between noon and midnight (P<0.0001). Conclusion: There is a very large range in daily coughs among healthy young adults. During sleeping hours there are less cough episodes. In autumn and spring there are more cough episodes compared to summer and winter, probably secondary to environmental factors. In smokers, the coughing rate is relatively high. If the cough detection device will be able to discriminate between cough variants (i.e. healthy vs. patient), and stringent validation will confirm sensitivity and specificity, valuable data from this device may ease the decision regarding medications, or any other changes in order to improve outcome.

publication date

  • January 1, 2016