Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Scientist: Breath Sensor Predicts Asthma Attack

Due to my lack of time and constant studying the post this week will be quite short but still full of interesting facts as always. An asthma attack is an acute shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness that results in severe damage to the respiratory system. Most of the times such an attack can be avoided however at other times no quick response time is adequate enough to prevent damage.

The new breath sensor developed by Siemens of all companies, measures the levels of nitrogen monoxide in our breath. Higher levels may indicate bronchial trauma as well as an impeding asthma attack. The sensor is very precise and can detect NO in very small amounts. The air passes over potassium permanganate catalyst which catalyses NO into NO2 which binds to photographic film creating a current that is detected by a transistor. An asthma attack can be detected up to 24 hours before hand.

Probably the people who will benefit the most from this device will be the ones with the sporadic and sudden asthma attacks since others can be prevented much more easily. Another fine development by medical science that may indeed save many lives in the future. However small the invention is it always has an application in science.