Smartphone App Can Indicate Worsening Asthma


Subjects’ coughing during sleep hours measured and evaluated with smartphone app

Researchers have shown that nighttime coughing, measured via a smartphone app, can indicate that asthma is getting worse.

The study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, is the first of its kind to measure patients’ coughing over a series of nights and shows that it is a sign of their asthma deteriorating.

Researchers say the app could represent a new way to help patients and their doctors monitor asthma and adjust medication to keep symptoms under control.

The study was led by Dr. Frank Rassouli, from the Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, Switzerland. He told the virtual conference: “Until now, we haven’t had a reliable tool for measuring peoples’ asthma symptoms overnight, so we know very little about night-time coughing and what it means,” said Dr. Rassouli.

“The current focus of our research group is using technology and simple interventions to improve the management of chronic lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smartphones have lots of potential to monitor different symptoms and detect changes early, so we worked with our research partners from University of St. Gallen and ETH Zurich to develop an app for measuring coughing.”

The study involved 94 asthma patients who were being treated at two clinics in Switzerland: the Lung Centre, Cantonal Hospital, St Gallen and the mediX Group Practice, Zurich. Each patient visited their asthma clinic at the beginning and end of the study and were assessed for their use of asthma treatments, symptoms such as shortness of breath and whether their asthma had any impact on their daily life.

For 29 days, patients slept with a smartphone in their bedroom with the app running that measured the noise of their nighttime coughing. The app also prompted patients to report their nighttime symptoms.

Researchers found that the amount of night-time coughing varied a lot from one patient to the next, but they also found a strong correlation between an increase in night-time coughing over the course of a week and a subsequent worsening of asthma symptoms.

Dr. Rassouli said: “Our results suggest that night-time coughing can be measured fairly simply with a smartphone app and that an increase in coughing at night is an indicator that asthma is deteriorating. Monitoring asthma is really important because if we can spot early signs that it’s getting worse, we can adjust medication to prevent asthma attacks.”

Now they have used the smartphone app to successfully monitor coughing in people with asthma, Dr. Rassouli and his team plan to try the same technology out with people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

SOURCE: Medical Express

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