Even though asthma is one of the most common childhood disorders, it terrifies me. Not being able to breathe is probably one of my worst fears, and I can’t believe that millions of children and adults have to cope with it every day. Though asthma can be controlled, sometimes the methods don’t always work the best or very quickly.

Thinking along these same lines, a researcher at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country wrote a PhD thesis on the link between asthma and exhaled nitric oxide. A piece of the research from the thesis was further examined by Dr. Paula Corcuera-Elosegui, an assistant consultant in Infant Pneumology at the Hospital Universitario Donostia in San Sebastian. She studied the use of the exhaled nitric oxide measurement as a complementary procedure in diagnosing and monitoring treatment for childhood asthma and overseeing the condition. She research not only confirmed that it was a useful test, but that it could be used to develop a technique to treat asthmatic children who were breast fed.

One of the most commonly used tools for diagnosing and assessing the severity of asthma in children is spirometry, which determines lung function. Recently however, it has been found that this methid may not be enough to get the most accurate readings. When exhaled nitric oxide is used as a supplemental tool, the data collected from the assessments is much more complete.

Dr. Corcuera explains that "All of us mammals exhale this molecule, and it is known that in asthma and in some other diseases its level may be above normal." Since there has already been some studies produced on nitric oxide and asthma, Dr. Corcuera was able to set up a line of research to assess how useful the exhaled nitric oxide measurement is.

Dr. Corcuera confessed that the developed technique had a few limitations, and it required the tests to be accompanied by clinical observation and the spirometry test.  However, the tests were also proven to be valid and useful for not only helping diagnose the disease, but also monitoring the patients. "One of the outstanding results is that the determination of exhaled nitric oxide can also be done on breast-fed babies," stressed Corcuera. "We have seen that the determination using multiple respirations with tidal volume and using a mouth-and-nose mask can be studied irrespective of age."

Elhuyar Fundazioa (2013, October 7). Advance in the diagnosis and control of childhood asthma. ScienceDaily.

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