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Sound of cough may help identify Covid-19 severity, finds study

The research involved smartphone recordings of voluntary coughing sounds from 70 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, all recorded within the first 24 hours after their admission to the hospital.

Edited By: Kristina Das New Delhi Published on: September 22, 2023 13:00 IST
Cough sound for Covid-19
Image Source : FREEPIK A study has found that the sound of a cough may help identify Covid-19 severity.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus that has caused a global pandemic. It is believed to have originated from wild animals, before spreading quickly to humans. The virus is transmitted through droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person when they cough, sneeze, or speak. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and sometimes loss of smell or taste. Severe cases may require hospitalisation and even lead to death. To prevent the spread of the virus, it is important to practice social distancing, wear masks, wash hands often, and avoid large gatherings. It is also important to follow the advice given by local health authorities. Together we can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect each other from its serious consequences.

Recently, a study published in the European Respiratory Journal has found that the sound of a cough could offer a quick, easy, and cost-effective method for identifying the severity of COVID-19 disease in patients, whether at home or in any healthcare setting.

While most individuals impacted by COVID-19 experience milder symptoms and recover within a few weeks, the global pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to pose a significant health challenge.

Some of those affected may progress to develop more severe illness and pneumonia, often resulting in a more unfavourable prognosis.

Although protocols have been developed to assess patients' risk, diagnostic and prognostic tools primarily rely on expensive and less accessible imaging methods, such as radiography, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT).

Therefore, there is a need to develop a simpler and more readily available prognostic tool that enables healthcare providers to identify patients who have developed or are at risk of developing severe disease.

This would streamline patient triage and facilitate early intervention, even in home or primary care settings.

A team of Spanish researchers carried out a study based on the analysis and interpretation of cough sounds in the initial phases of Covid-19. This method is presented as a potential predictive, simple, and accessible tool to assess the risk of suffering severe pneumonia.

The research involved smartphone recordings of voluntary coughing sounds from 70 patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection, all recorded within the first 24 hours after their admission to the hospital.

Barcelona’s Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) conducted an acoustic analysis of these recordings, which revealed significant differences in cough sounds depending on the severity of the respiratory condition, as previously confirmed by imaging tests and the need for supplemental oxygen.

The results indicate that this analysis could be used to categorise COVID-19 patients as mild, moderate, or severe and to monitor patients with persistent COVID-19.

The study was conducted using data collected between April 2020 and May 2021 at Hospital del Mar. Dr. Joaquim Gea, emeritus head of the Pneumology Service, and researcher at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute, suggests that these findings can prove beneficial “in regions with limited medical infrastructure or during emergency situations. This approach can aid in the prompt identification and isolation of COVID-19 patients, thus facilitating proper medical care and the implementation of control measures.”

 While the study was primarily centred on COVID-19, it also paves the way for applying this model to other respiratory conditions.

(With IANS Inputs)

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