, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 469-477
Date: 30 Oct 2009

A System for Recording High Fidelity Cough Sound and Airflow Characteristics

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Cough is considered an early sign of many respiratory diseases. Recently, there has been increased interest in measuring, analyzing, and characterizing the acoustical properties of a cough. In most cases the main focus of those studies was to distinguish between involuntary coughs and ambient sounds over a specified time period. The objective of this study was to develop a system to measure high fidelity voluntary cough sounds to detect lung diseases. To further augment the analysis capability of the system, a non-invasive flow measurement was also incorporated into the design. One of the main design considerations was to increase the fidelity of the recorded sound characteristics by increasing the signal to noise ratio of cough sounds and to minimize acoustical reflections from the environment. To accomplish this goal, a system was designed with a mouthpiece connected to a cylindrical tube. A microphone was attached near the mouthpiece so that its diaphragm was tangent to the inner surface of the cylinder. A pneumotach at the end of the tube measured the airflow generated by the cough. The system was terminated with an exponential horn to minimize sound reflections. Custom software was developed to read, process, display, record, and analyze cough sound and airflow characteristics. The system was optimized by comparing acoustical reflections and total signal to background noise ratios across different designs. Cough measurements were also collected from volunteer subjects to assess the viability of the system. Results indicate that analysis of cough characteristics has the potential to detect lung disease.

Disclosures: The findings and conclusions of this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.