Cough Tracking: Why Should You Do It?

Tracking your health has become very popular. It’s quite a new concept, but more and more people every day are installing various apps to track different health metrics – weight, calorie intake, blood pressure, heart rate, steps, and so on. But what about coughing? A cough is the most common reason people go to the doctor; it’s an indication that something is going on in your body that needs attention. So, let’s discuss why you should track your cough and how can you do it effectively. 

Why Track Your Cough?

Having more information – knowing what’s going on with your body – enables you to make changes to improve your health. For instance, step counters encouraged people to be more active because seeing how much they walked let them set step goals and encouraged them to reach them. Because of this behavior, researchers asked themselves if tracking other health metrics could also have benefits.

This is how the idea of cough tracking came about. A cough is one of the most common symptoms people seek medical care for. In fact, around 10% of visits to the emergency department are just for coughs and worldwide chronic coughing affects 10% of the global population. However, despite cough being a real problem for many people, we didn’t have an objective, accurate way to quantify it. People had to rely on their memory when reporting to their doctor, which often lead to underreporting, particularly by chronic coughers of the amount that they coughed because it had become so normal they no longer noticed it.

Cough tracking can help you discover a lot of information about your cough, which can help you manage it better.

How to Track Your Cough?

In order to track your cough, you have to know exactly how many times you coughed and when. There are multiple ways you can track this. 

The first one is pen and paper or a digital version of that like notes in your phone. You’ll need to remember to go in each time you cough to add the time and number of your coughs. At the end of the day, you can sum up all the numbers and see how many times you coughed that day. If you group your notes into morning, afternoon and evening, you can also see when you coughed more frequently.

Another way to track your cough is by using a cough tracker app. This is an advanced version of the pen and paper method and has several benefits: 

  • It detects cough sounds and captures them for you automatically. 
  • It not only counts the number of coughs but also assigns time stamps.
  • An app can create visual reports for you so you can see patterns in your coughing over the day, a week, or month, and see how it changes throughout the year. 
  • You don’t have to remember to note down when you cough and it saves a lot of time and brain space!

Benefits of Cough Tracking 

Having more information about our body and what’s happening with it day to day helps us feel more in control and enables us to make informed decisions about our health. Coughing is another metric we can, and should, track to get an objective measurement to supplement our subjective feelings. Here are some benefits of cough tracking:

  • Validation – A lot of times, people who cough a lot go to the doctor or tell someone about how bad their cough is just to be met with a lack of understanding or having their experience dismissed because it’s based on “feelings.” By having objective data to show people, you will be able to support what you know is true about the severity of your cough.
  • All your cough data in one place – A cough tracking app can generate reports for you to represent your coughing in numbers and visually and you’ll have all your data in one place.
  • Learn about your cough triggers – By discovering when you cough and pairing this with your knowledge of where you were and what you were doing at the time, you’ll be able to determine what, if anything, triggered your cough. Sometimes triggers are something obvious, such as exercise or pets, and sometimes they can be more subtle, such as eating or the weather.
  • Regain control of your health – A cough can be debilitating, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing. Having objective data that shows its frequency and patterns, and lets you work out the triggers for your cough, may help you manage your cough, and your life, better.

Final Thoughts

If you’re experiencing any sort of cough – chronic cough, acute cough, allergy cough, COPD cough, GERD cough, cough in pregnancy, or any other type of cough that bothers you – you might benefit from cough tracking. It will help you know whether your cough is getting better or worse, discover your cough patterns and triggers, and even have more productive conversations about your cough.