Older woman looking concerned and reading the Coughtracker app on her mobile phone.

Sponsored by Merck

An estimated 12 million adults in the United States – or about 5% of the adult population – have chronic cough, which is defined as a cough that lasts longer than eight weeks. Both men and women can have chronic cough, but it is more common in women. In fact, the typical person with chronic cough is a woman in her 50s.

Chronic cough is commonly associated with other health conditions, such as asthma or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but for some people, their chronic cough doesn’t go away after treatment of other health conditions. For others, no other health condition associated with the chronic cough can be identified.

Chronic cough can be triggered by many things, including dust, secondhand smoke, strong smells, laughing, singing and even cold air. People with this condition typically cough in “bouts” they cannot control and usually feel a strong urge to cough or a tickle in their throat before a coughing bout starts.

Impact of chronic cough on daily life

Living with chronic cough can be challenging and frustrating, impacting those affected physically, socially and emotionally. People with chronic cough can experience symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and physical exhaustion, as well as embarrassment in social settings. Chronic cough can be intrusive to day-to-day life and can interfere with a person’s ability to talk and participate in daily activities and social gatherings.

Someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to live with chronic cough is Judy C., who finds herself constantly apologizing to others for her cough. Chronic cough prevents Judy from doing some of her favorite activities, such as attending Broadway shows and going to the movies. If she is not seated near an aisle, she feels anxious in these settings and worries she will disrupt the performance or ruin the experience for other audience members. Judy has had to excuse herself from the table at restaurants due to coughing bouts, sometimes returning to a cold meal once her coughing bouts are over.

“Coughing can be an everyday thing for me, where I cough many times a day,” Judy explains. “Most people don’t understand what I’m going through. I find it impossible to do a lot of the things I enjoy without feeling like I’m bothering the people around me.”

A new app to track your cough

If you’re like Judy and have a persistent cough, you know navigating the condition can be difficult, at times. It can sometimes be hard to explain to your health care provider how often or bad your cough is and how it may affect your daily life. Now, a free and easy-to-use healthy living app, CoughTracker, is available to track and record how often you cough. That information can help uncover patterns or triggers you might not have noticed before, which may help you have a productive conversation with your doctor.

Using CoughTracker is easy. You can download it from the app store on your phone and sign into the app using your email, Google, Facebook, Twitter or Apple login. The app detects cough-like sounds and sends 0.5 second snippets of possible cough sounds to a cloud server to decide if they are coughs. You can choose when the app listens for your cough, which helps capture the sound and length of your cough as you allow.

CoughTracker also allows you to set a reminder to turn the app on at certain times of day, including while sleeping, so you can track your cough. You can pause or stop CoughTracker from recording your cough at any time. CoughTracker should not be used to diagnose or treat any health conditions.

An educational resource about chronic cough

For more information about chronic cough and to download CoughTracker, visit The Cough Chronicles, an educational resource sponsored by Merck in collaboration with the American Lung Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the Allergy & Asthma Network to support those living with the condition.