The hand-held breath test that spots lung diseases in just o
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.

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.

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.

Samples of tissue and fluid can be taken by instruments that are passed down the tube. Patients can find the procedure uncomfortable, despite sedation, and potential complications include bleeding, infections and irritation of the airway. In contrast, with the new breath test, called Inflammacheck, the patient simply breathes into the battery-powered device for up to one minute or around 20 breaths.

A sensor in the gadget measures hydrogen peroxide in the exhaled breath. Hydrogen peroxide is produced as part of the body’s immune response.

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