Improving Asthma Care
FeNo testing allows doctors to identify airway inflammation, diagnose asthma, and monitor treatment more easily than ever before.
Understanding Airway Inflammation
Inflammation in the airways occurs when a person’s immune system responds to a perceived threat like pollen, infection, pollutants, or allergens. To combat the threat, the body releases chemicals that cause the airway to swell, making it harder for air to travel to the lungs. In severe cases, inflammation can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, or can even cause the airways to close entirely.
Why You Might Test for Airway Inflammation
Doctors use the presence of airway inflammation to properly diagnose asthma, as all asthmatics have a certain degree of chronic inflammation. To test for inflammation, doctors measure the levels of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), or the amount of nitric oxide that’s released in one exhaled breath. Higher than average FeNO levels indicate the presence of inflammation. Doctors can use the test results to confirm asthma diagnoses and to rule out other diseases that may have similar symptoms but do not cause airway inflammation. FeNO levels are also tested to predict if patients will respond to corticosteroid treatment (e.g. inhalers).
How It Works
Using the NIOX VERO, doctors can test for FeNO levels in a matter of minutes. To begin, patients inhale through the handheld breathing mechanism, filling the lungs to capacity. The device’s monitor displays an upward-moving cloud that will indicate when the patient has reached proper inhalation levels. Then, he or she exhales slowly through the filter, prompted again by the monitor to signal proper pressure. Test results generate in approximately one minute, and the FeNO level will display on the screen.
Benefits to Patients
Traditional methods used to assess asthma are only indirectly associated with airway inflammation, which means they provided an incomplete picture and less reliable results. Not to mention, methods like sputum induction or airway biopsy are expensive and invasive. Fortunately, advancements in FeNO testing are making appropriate diagnosis and subsequent treatment much easier. Not only can FeNO testing help predict steroid responsiveness, it can also be used to monitor whether or not patients are following their treatment regimens.