Predicting spirometry readings using cough sound features and regression

Roneel V. Sharan, Udantha R. Abeyratne, Vinayak R. Swarnkar, Scott Claxton, Craig Hukins, Paul Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Spirometry is a commonly used method of measuring lung function. It is useful in the definitive diagnosis of diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, spirometry requires cooperative patients, experienced staff, and repeated testing to ensure the consistency of measurements. There is discomfort associated with spirometry and some patients are not able to complete the test. In this paper, we investigate the possibility of using cough sound analysis for the prediction of spirometry measurements. Approach: Our approach is based on the premise that the mechanism of cough generation and the forced expiratory maneuver of spirometry share sufficient similarities enabling this prediction. Using an iPhone, we collected mostly voluntary cough sounds from 322 adults presenting to a respiratory function laboratory for pulmonary function testing. Subjects had the following diagnoses: obstructive, restrictive, or mixed pattern diseases, or were found to have no lung disease along with normal spirometry. The cough sounds were automatically segmented using the algorithm described in Sharan et al (2018 IEEE Trans. Biomed. Eng.). We then represented cough sounds with various cough sound descriptors and built linear and nonlinear regression models connecting them to spirometry parameters. Augmentation of cough features with subject demographic data is also experimented with. The dataset was divided into 272 training subjects and 50 test subjects for experimentation. Main results: The performance of the auto-segmentation algorithm was evaluated on 49 randomly selected subjects from the overall dataset with a sensitivity and PPV of 84.95% and 98.51%, respectively. Our regression models achieved a root mean square error (and correlation coefficient) for standard spirometry parameters FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC of 0.593L (0.810), 0.725L (0.749), and 0.164 (0.547), respectively, on the test dataset. In addition, we could achieve sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of 70% or higher by applying the GOLD standard for COPD diagnosis on the estimated spirometry test results. Significance: The experimental results show high positive correlation in predicting FEV1 and FVC and moderate positive correlation in predicting FEV1/FVC. The results show possibility of predicting spirometry results using cough sound analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number095001
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological Measurement
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

A corrigendum exists for this article and can be found in Physiological Measurement (2019) Vol. 40 (2) at doi: 10.1088/1361-6579/ab06ce


  • chronic respiratory disease
  • cough sound analysis
  • regression
  • spirometry


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