Attacking asthma with a new test

FRESNO, Calif.

If you're looking for Alfredo Solis check the garage.

"Jack of all trades...master of none," Alfredo Solis, asthma sufferer, told Action News.

Not much could slow him 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," Alfredo said.

After a battery of tests everything came back negative. Then he took a deep breath and exhaled into a nitric oxide test.

Unlike a 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.

"It becomes sort of direct evidence that your airways inflamed," Sumita B. Khatri, M.D, M.S, co-director of the Asthma Center Respiratory Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, explained.

She says the NO 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," Dr.Khatri said.

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

"The number came back at 129," Alfredo said about his results.

He was finally diagnosed with asthma and 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 yard work," Alfredo said.

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 told Action News some asthma patients have normal NO levels so the test doesn't work in all cases.

Tora Vinci
Media Relations
Cleveland Clinic
(216)444 -2412

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