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Bad Breath: Using Breathalyzers to Diagnose Disease

Posted on: October 15th, 2013 by Kristin Zimmermann
Category: Health News, Stories of Hope

Man blowing into breathalyzerBreathalyzers: they’re not just for suspected drunk drivers anymore. Doctors may soon be using breath tests to diagnose serious health conditions.

According to an article on, researchers have been able to accurately diagnose ailments including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and several different types of cancer by analyzing patients’ exhalations. Illness changes the body’s chemical makeup and signs of those changes show up in bodily secretions, including our exhalations. For example, one study revealed that “a panel of compounds in MS patients’ breath was as accurate as a spinal tap in diagnosing the neurological condition.”

This type of testing is already being used to see if asthma medications are working and if a transplanted heart is being rejected by the recipient’s body. However, it is not a foolproof method because our breath is an extremely complex mixture. It will take time to decipher exactly how different illnesses alter our exhaled matter, so it’ll probably be a while before these tests become the norm. But breath tests could eventually become a low-cost, non-invasive way to help diagnose health conditions. Pretty interesting stuff! You can read more about it right here.

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