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New Technology Helps Asthma Patients

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 10:58am

More Americans than ever before are suffering from asthma, making it one of the country's most common diseases.

10-year old Jaden Gourdine has been suffering from asthma since he was 2. It's forced the fifth grader to stay on the sidelines when it comes to sports and playing with friends.

"When we run it's very hard to control my breathing," he says.

"Patients do experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, cough, tightness in the chest," says Asthma and Allergy Specialist Dr. Talal Nsouli.

Typically doctors test for asthma by measuring how much air a person inhales and exhales, but Dr. Nsouli says that doesn't always indicate how severe their condition is.

"It will not allow us to evaluate the inflammation that you have in the airways and this is very important. We could probably be missing if the patient needs more medication because we're not measuring the degree of inflammation," he says.

Doctors now have a new tool, a device called Niox that measures the amount of nitric oxide gas in the breath. Nitric oxide is produced normally in the body, but high levels indicate that your airway is inflamed.

"The more asthma a patient could be suffering from, the more nitric oxide is exhaled," says Dr. Nsouli.

A higher reading on the device means that inflammation is severe and a patient may need a higher dose of medication a lower reading could indicate that their asthma is under control. It's very important that this Niox test is given in conjunction with the older tests, as well as a comprehensive health history.

Doctors say it's all of these things combined that help them prescribe the best possible treatment.
 

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