The automatic recognition and counting of cough

Cough. 2006 Sep 28;2:8. doi: 10.1186/1745-9974-2-8.


Background: Cough recordings have been undertaken for many years but the analysis of cough frequency and the temporal relation to trigger factors have proven problematic. Because cough is episodic, data collection over many hours is required, along with real-time aural analysis which is equally time-consuming. A method has been developed for the automatic recognition and counting of coughs in sound recordings.

Methods: The Hull Automatic Cough Counter (HACC) is a program developed for the analysis of digital audio recordings. HACC uses digital signal processing (DSP) to calculate characteristic spectral coefficients of sound events, which are then classified into cough and non-cough events by the use of a probabilistic neural network (PNN). Parameters such as the total number of coughs and cough frequency as a function of time can be calculated from the results of the audio processing. Thirty three smoking subjects, 20 male and 13 female aged between 20 and 54 with a chronic troublesome cough were studied in the hour after rising using audio recordings.

Results: Using the graphical user interface (GUI), counting the number of coughs identified by HACC in an hour long recording, took an average of 1 minute 35 seconds, a 97.5% reduction in counting time. HACC achieved a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity of 96%. Reproducibility of repeated HACC analysis is 100%.

Conclusion: An automated system for the analysis of sound files containing coughs and other non-cough events has been developed, with a high robustness and good degree of accuracy towards the number of actual coughs in the audio recording.