A New Asthma Test

Dr. Greene’s take on a new asthma test…

A New Asthma Test

Waiting and wondering is often tough on parents – and can result in delayed treatment for children. But waiting and wondering is often exactly what happens when a child wheezes or coughs. Over time, the diagnosis becomes clear with repeated bouts of a dry cough or wheezing, usually worse at night, and improving with asthma medicines.

Spirometry is a test of lung function that can be helpful in making a diagnosis, but it requires coordinated cooperation from children (blowing out rapidly with maximum force at the right moment). Children usually need to be more than six years old for the test to be accurate.

A newer test called impulse oscillometry (IOS) appears to be both more accurate and far easier to perform in young children, according to a study published in the August 2003 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The study involved children years younger than those who are usually eligible for spirometry. Because IOS requires little coordination or cooperation (just brief normal breathing into a mouthpiece), it holds promise as a quick and easy diagnostic test for asthma in young children.

Early diagnosis can lead to optimum prevention and treatment for kids, and less waiting and wondering for parents and pediatricians.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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