Medical Minute 11-16:

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

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

"I'm wheezing, I'm coughing, at night you can hear gurgling in my chest," said Alfredo Solis, Asthma Sufferer.

After a battery of tests:

"Everything came back negative."

Then, he took a deep breathe and exhaled into a device just like this.
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 n-o levels can go up as lung inflammation increases.

"It becomes sort of direct evidence that your airways inflamed."

She says the n-o test helps her diagnose tough asthma cases the spirometer can't detect.

"I use it in patients with severe asthma where I feel like, well, is it severe because they're not taking their medication," said Sumita B Khatri, M.D., M.S., Co-director Asthma Center Respiratory Institute Cleveland Clinic.

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

"The number came back at 129."

He was finally diagnosed with asthma; his symptoms cleared up with this.

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

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