The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK has recommended new tests for better diagnosis and management of asthma.
Asthma is a common lung disorder characterised by airway inflammation and breathing problems such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest.
The recommended objective tests, including spirometry and FeNO, are expected to aid in confirming the diagnosis, leading to accurate detection and effective treatment of the condition.
Spirometry tests monitor the amount of inhaled and exhaled air to assess the condition of lungs, while FeNO tests measure nitric oxide levels in the breath and elevated levels are associated with lung inflammation and asthma.
NICE centre for guidelines director Mark Baker said: “We are recommending objective testing with spirometry and FeNO for most people with suspected asthma; a significant enhancement to current practice, which will take the NHS some time to implement, with additional infrastructure and training needed in primary care.”
It is expected that the new models of care being developed locally could aid in the implementation of the new recommendations.
The positive experience from NICE’s primary care pilot sites that trialled FeNO techniques would help in opening diagnostic hubs for efficient and affordable testing.
Baker added: “The investment and training required to implement the new guidance will take time.
“In the meantime, primary care services should implement what they can of the new guidelines, using currently available approaches to diagnosis until the infrastructure for objective testing is in place.”
NICE further recommends that patients with poorly controlled asthma should be given a leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA) tablet with a preventer inhaler before proceeding to more expensive treatments.