Sputum Monitoring Could Cut Adult Asthma Attacks

Armen Hareyan's picture

Adult Asthma Attacks and Treatment

A new review suggests that asthma treatment based on tests of fluid coughed up from the lungs could reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups in adult asthma patients.

However, lead review author Helen Petsky said, "The practice cannot be recommended in all settings until more studies are available," adding that no research shows this practice is effective in children.


Asthma patients and their doctors typically head off asthma attacks by tracking the frequency of symptoms such as wheezing and coughing, and use lung function tests to identify when airways become narrowed or inflamed.

Testing lung secretions offers another way to measure airway inflammation objectively and can help patients and doctors manage asthma, said Petsky, a respiratory nurse and project coordinator at the Royal Children's Hospital in Queensland, Australia.

Petsky and co-authors evaluated research on the use of sputum analysis, a laboratory test performed on fluid coughed up from the lungs.

When asthma patients experience the airway narrowing that precedes an asthma flare, they produce two kinds of white blood cells that are signs of inflammation. These cells