Speech signal analysis as an alternative to spirometry in asthma diagnosis: investigating the linear and polynomial correlation coefficient

  • John KutorEmail author
  • Srinivasan Balapangu
  • Jeromy K. Adofo
  • Albert Atsu Dellor
  • Christopher Nyakpo
  • Godfred Akwetey Brown


Speech production involves the vibration of the vocal cords. Voice changes will occur in respiratory diseases such as asthma due to the inflamed lung airways, which is part of the vocal tract. Spirometry is a well-known technique employed in diagnosis of asthma to give information on patient pulmonary function. The purpose of this research was to investigate the correlation between Forced Expiratory Volume to Forced Vital Capacity (FEV1/FVC) ratio obtained from spirometry and Harmonics-to-Noise Ratio (HNR) obtained from human speech, in order to determine whether speech analysis could be an alternative to spirometry in diagnosing asthma. Spirometry data was obtained from 150 subjects, who were asthmatic patients attending the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana. Speech data consisting of the vowel sounds /a:/,/e:/, /ɛ:/, /i:/,/o:/, /ɔ:/,/u:/ and phrase “She sells”, was also recorded from the subjects. 33 samples were selected and analyzed to generate speech parameters with Praat software. Correlation was established between HNR from the speech signals and spirometry data FEV1/FVC. The highest correlation coefficient was observed between HNR and vowel sound /ɛ:/ (42.08%). In conclusion, among the other speech vowels and phonemes, HNR of /ɛ:/ sound showed the most promise to being a suitable marker in using speech as an alternative to spirometry in asthma diagnosis.


Harmonics-to-noise ratio FEV1 FVC Asthma Speech Diagnosis 



The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of all who have in one way or the other aided in some aspects of this work especially, Dr. Audrey Forson of University of Ghana Medical School, Dr. Asomani of Chest Department, Korle-Bu, Ms. Beatrice Adom, Mr. Emmanuel Offei and Mr. Obed Korshie Dzikunu of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Ghana. This work is fully funded by Office of Research and Innovation Development (ORID), University of Ghana. Grant Ref: ORID/ILG/-019/05-13.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants of the study before including them in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Kutor
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Srinivasan Balapangu
    • 1
  • Jeromy K. Adofo
    • 1
  • Albert Atsu Dellor
    • 1
  • Christopher Nyakpo
    • 1
  • Godfred Akwetey Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of GhanaAccraGhana
  2. 2.School of Engineering Sciences, College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS)University of GhanaAccraGhana

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