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Exhaled nitric oxide levels in military recruits with new onset asthma

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Approximately 800 United States Air Force basic military trainees (BMTs) are diagnosed with asthma, annually, resulting in separation from the military. With training costs of approximately $10,000/person, around $8 million is lost per year. Improved methods in diagnosing asthma would be beneficial. The aim of this study was to determine the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), a marker of airway inflammation, in a military recruit population referred for an asthma evaluation. In BMTs referred for respiratory complaints during basic training, FENO levels were determined before an asthma evaluation consisting of a history, physical, baseline spirometry, and histamine bronchoprovocation. Of 172 BMTs who had symptoms suggestive of asthma and underwent histamine bronchoprovocation, 80% were diagnosed with asthma. FENO levels were significantly higher in asthmatic patients than nonasthmatic patients (mean, 30 parts per billion [ppb] versus 19 ppb, p < 0.001; median, 21 ppb versus 17 ppb, p < 0.02). Various FENO cutoff points provided a range of sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of asthma. However, an optimal FENO cutoff level for asthma was not obtained. An FENO value of 10.5 ppb provided a sensitivity of 86% for the diagnosis of asthma, but specificity was only 21%. In contrast, an FENO value of 46 ppb provided 100% specificity but only 17% sensitivity. FENO levels were significantly elevated in BMTs diagnosed with asthma but the lack of an optimal cutoff level limits the test as a diagnostic tool for asthma. Additional studies are necessary to determine the value of FENO for asthma screening in a military population.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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