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Nitric oxide levels in a patient's breath may be a better indicator for determining corticosteroid dose for children with moderate-to-severe asthma, according to the results of a study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine (October 2005). Researchers based inhaled corticosteroid treatment for 39 children with asthma, average age 12 years, mainly on exhaled nitric oxide levels, while also considering symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroid treatment levels administered to 46 children of approximately the same age were based totally on symptoms. All of the patients had atopic asthma.
The 1-year study involved measuring exhaled nitric oxide in the test group 5 times. Airway hyperresponsiveness and lung function were determined in both groups at the beginning and end of the study. The findings indicated that participants in the nitric oxide group had 8 severe exacerbations during the study, compared with 18 exacerbations in patients treated based on symptoms.