FRACTION OF EXHALED NITROUS OXIDE (FENO) TESTING

An exhaled nitric oxide test can help with the diagnosis and treatment of asthma. Also known as the fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) test, this test measures the level of nitric oxide gas in an exhaled sample of your breath. This sample is collected by having you breathe slowly and steadily into a mouthpiece that's attached to a machine that performs the measurement.

INDICATIONS

The diagnosis of asthma is usually made using your medical history, a physical exam, and certain tests to see how well your lungs are working, such as peak flow measurement and spirometry tests. You may need tests that trigger and then treat mild asthma symptoms. These tests are called challenge tests.

If the diagnosis of asthma is still uncertain, or if there are questions about the best treatment, an exhaled nitric oxide test may be helpful. Nitric oxide is produced throughout the body, including in the lungs, to fight inflammation and relax tight muscles. High levels of exhaled nitric oxide in your breath can mean that your airways are inflamed — one sign of asthma.

Nitric oxide testing is also done to help predict whether or not steroid medications, which decrease inflammation, are likely to be helpful for your asthma. If you've already been diagnosed with asthma and treated with one of the steroid medications, your doctor may use an exhaled nitric oxide test during office visits to help determine whether your asthma is under control.

PROCEDURE

To do this test, you'll be seated. Your provider will have you put in a mouthpiece that's attached to a tube that leads to an electronic measurement device. Next, you'll breathe in slowly and deeply until your lungs are filled with air. Your provider will then have you exhale slowly and steadily so that the air flows out of your lungs at a steady, even rate.

Your provider may have you watch a computer monitor that registers how much you're breathing out so that you can maintain a steady exhalation. You'll need to repeat the test a few times to confirm your results. The entire test generally takes five minutes or less.

RESULTS

WHAT THE RESULTS MEAN

The diagnosis of asthma is usually made using your medical history, a physical exam, and certain tests to see how well your lungs are working, such as peak flow measurement and spirometry tests. You may need tests that trigger and then treat mild asthma symptoms. These tests are called challenge tests.

 

If the diagnosis of asthma is still uncertain, or if there are questions about the best treatment, an exhaled nitric oxide test may be helpful. Nitric oxide is produced throughout the body, including in the lungs, to fight inflammation and relax tight muscles. High levels of exhaled nitric oxide in your breath can mean that your airways are inflamed — one sign of asthma.

 

Nitric oxide testing is also done to help predict whether or not steroid medications, which decrease inflammation, are likely to be helpful for your asthma. If you've already been diagnosed with asthma and treated with one of the steroid medications, your doctor may use an exhaled nitric oxide test during office visits to help determine whether your asthma is under control.

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