Cough dynamics in adults receiving tuberculosis treatment

Gwenyth O. Lee, Germán Comina, Gustavo Hernandez-Cordova, Nehal Naik, Oscar Gayoso, Eduardo Ticona, Jorge Coronel, Carlton A. Evans, Mirko Zimic, Valerie A. Paz-Soldan, Robert H. Gilman, Richard Oberhelman

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6 Scopus citations


Cough is a characteristic symptom of tuberculosis, is the main cause of transmission, and is used to assess treatment response. We aimed to identify the best measure of cough severity and characterize changes during initial tuberculosis therapy. We conducted a prospective cohort of recently diagnosed ambulatory adult patients with pulmonary tuberculosis in two tertiary hospitals in Lima, Peru. Pre-treatment and five times during the first two months of treatment, a vibrometer was used to capture 4-hour recordings of involuntary cough. A total of 358 recordings from 69 participants were analyzed using a computer algorithm. Total time spent coughing (seconds per hour) was a better predictor of microbiologic indicators of disease severity and treatment response than the frequency of cough episodes or cough power. Patients with prior tuberculosis tended to cough more than patients without prior tuberculosis, and patients with tuberculosis and diabetes coughed more than patients without diabetes co-morbidity. Cough characteristics were similar regardless of HIV co-infection and for drug-susceptible versus drug-resistant tuberculosis. Tuberculosis treatment response may be meaningfully assessed by objectively monitoring the time spent coughing. This measure demonstrated that cough was increased in patients with TB recurrence or co-morbid diabetes, but not because of drug resistance or HIV co-infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0231167
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through Grant 4D43TW009349-05. Nehal Naik was supported by the National Institutes of Health Office of the Director, Fogarty International Center, Office of AIDS Research, National Cancer Center, National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, and the NIH Office of Research for Women’s Health through the Fogarty Global Health Fellows Program Consortium comprised of the University of North Carolina, John Hopkins, Morehouse and Tulane (R25TW009340). CAE acknowledges funding from the Wellcome Trust (awards 057434/Z/99/Z, 070005/Z/02/Z, 078340/Z/05/Z, 105788/Z/14/Z and 201251/Z/16/ Z); the Joint Global Health Trials consortium (MRC, DFID, & Wellcome Trust award MR/K007467/1); the STOP TB partnership’s TB REACH initiative funded by the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (awards W5_PER_CDT1_PRISMA and OPP1118545); and the charity IFHAD: Innovation For Health And Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or any of the funders.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Lee et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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