The lung function of asthmatic children can be checked by using a simple test that measures the nitric oxide concentration in their exhaled breath.
The practice, however, is not part of the routine for young patients, said Michael Barczok of Germany's federal association of pneumologists located in Heidenheim. But it should be because it allows for a more exact asthma check and is easier for children.
Young children often fear a blood test, and having them cough and spit on command requires more coordination skills than the children have.
Asthma and chronic coughing cause the body to build up more nitric oxide after an infection or inflammation. Decreasing values of nitric oxide indicate the inflammation is on the decline. The therapy can be better tailored and the medications given at lower doses, said Barczok.
"This is very important in paediatrics because only in seldom cases do our patients say or otherwise signal that they are doing better," he said.