New breakthroughs in testing for asthma

Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. 24 million Americans experience these symptoms when asthma attacks. The chronic respiratory disease is obvious in some, but other patients suffer a long time, while doctors struggle to figure out their problem. Now, a new test is helping undiagnosed asthmatics, breathe a lot easier.

if you're looking for Alfredo Solis, check the garage.

Alfredo Solis, explains how active he is, "Jack of all trades...master of none."

Not much could slow him down. That is, until he started feeling faint while working around the house.

Solis explains the symptoms he suffered, "I'm wheezing, I'm coughing, at night you can hear gurgling in my chest."

After a battery of tests.

Solis explains how the doctors could not figure out what the problem was, "Everything came back negative."

Then, he took a deep breathe, and exhaled into a device. It's an exhaled nitric oxide test. Unlike this spirometer, which tests the amount of air coming out of your lungs and how fast it comes out, to diagnose asthma. This machine measures the nitric oxide in your breath. The chemical is naturally produced in our bodies. Cleveland Clinic Pulmonary Doctor Sumita Kharti says NO levels can go up, as lung inflammation increases.

Doctor Sumita Kharti, doctor, explains how the test works, "It becomes sort of direct evidence that your airways inflamed."

She says the NO test helps her diagnose tough asthma cases, the spirometer can't detect.

Doctor Kharti, describes the patients she usually uses the test on, “I use it in patients with severe asthma where I feel like, well, is it severe because they're not taking their medication."

The device gives results in 90 seconds. Below 50 parts per billion is the normal range, above 50, asthma's likely. Alfredo's results?

He was finally diagnosed with asthma, his symptoms cleared up with an inhaler.

"I feel like a million bucks. I'm running around, I'm playing baseball, I'm doing my yardwork."

Doctor Khatri says the NO test is also a great tool to personalize medicine. After asthma is diagnosed, a patient can take the test again to check their NO levels. Then doctors can adjust their medication as needed.

Khatri tells us some asthma patients have normal NO levels, so the test doesn't work in all cases.


REPORT: MB #3377

BACKGROUND: Over 24 million people experience the effects of asthma, in which asthma causes their airways to swell and narrow. The effects of severe asthma can interfere with people's daily activities. Although it cannot be cured, it can still be controlled. The first step to finding the right treatment is by having an accurate diagnosis. With the N-O Asthma Breath test, levels of nitric oxide are measured by just a few strong exhales.

SYMPTOMS: Signs and symptoms caused by asthma can include shortness of breath, an audible wheezing or whistling sound while breathing, and also chest tightness or pain. (
CAUSES: The causes of asthma can either be environmental or genetic factors. Asthma can be due to airborne allergens, respiratory infections, cold air and even certain medications. (
ABOUT THE BREATH TEST: Nitric oxide is already produced by the body, but too much can be a sign of swollen airways which is a sign of asthma. Therefore, the N-O Asthma Breath test can detect if there are high levels of nitric oxide. This differs from the Spirometer, in which it is only a simple breathing test that only measures how fast one can blow air out of their lungs helping to determine airway obstruction. The N-O Asthma Breath test is more accurate, helping to diagnose those difficult cases of asthma. (SOURCE :
APPLICATION: For the test, the patient will be seated while the doctor puts in the mouthpiece that is attached with a tube that leads to an electronic measurement device. Then, the patient will be asked to exhale air at a steady pace, often times while watching a computer monitor that registers how much the patient is breathing out. The test takes about five minutes for the device to register the nitric oxide levels.
Patients are asked to avoid the use of an asthma inhaler, eating and drinking, exercising and the use of tobacco, toothpaste or mouthwash, two hours before taking the test.

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