The study saw asthma patients sleep with a smartphone in their bedroom for 29 days with the app running in order to measure the noise of coughing during the night.
Patients were also prompted to report night-time symptoms themselves, with the results indicating that there was a link between an increase in coughing and worsening asthma symptoms.
Dr Frank Rassouli, from the Cantonal Hospital in St Gallen, Switzerland, who ran the study, said the app could help with asthma treatments going forward.
Monitoring asthma is really important because if we can spot early signs that it’s getting worse, we can adjust medication to prevent asthma attacks
“Until now, we haven’t had a reliable tool for measuring people’s asthma symptoms overnight, so we know very little about night-time coughing and what it means,” he said.
“Our results suggest that night-time coughing can be measured fairly simply with a smartphone app and that an increase in coughing at night is an indicator that asthma is deteriorating.
“Monitoring asthma is really important because if we can spot early signs that it’s getting worse, we can adjust medication to prevent asthma attacks.”
The research is to be presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in September.
Dr Rassouli said he and his team now hope to trial the same technology on patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which also causes breathing difficulties.