A one-minute breath test could speed up lung disease diagnosis and help ensure patients get the correct treatment.
The hand-held device measures levels of hydrogen peroxide in breath. Hydrogen peroxide is best known as a key bleaching ingredient in hair dye, but it is also naturally produced by the body, where it is a telltale sign of inflammation in the airway.
Measuring the patient’s hydrogen peroxide levels could give doctors a quick and simple way of identifying lung diseases.
The device is being trialled on NHS patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Did you know? A one-minute breath test could speed up lung disease diagnosis and help ensure patients get the correct treatment
Thousands of patients with COPD have been misdiagnosed with asthma (and given the wrong treatment), as Good Health recently reported — this new, non-invasive test could help to quickly distinguish between the two conditions.
A common feature of COPD and asthma is airway inflammation. Different inflammatory cells are involved in the two conditions, and the inflammation seen in asthma is mainly located in the larger airway, while COPD mainly affects the small airway passages and lungs.
The device measures neutrophil inflammation, which is lower in asthma. The main tool for measuring airway inflammation is fibreoptic bronchoscopy, an invasive procedure where a fine tube with a camera on its end is fed down the throat into the passages of the lungs.