New answers on the cause of asthma

WASHINGTON — Pollen counts are through the roof, and for a lot of us, allergy season is in full bloom. But if someone is wheezing instead of sneezing, it could be something else.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 million Americans have asthma and the number is rising each year.

It can be tough to diagnose, especially since the symptoms don’t always occur when a patient goes to the doctor.

But researchers at the University of Wisconsin say they have come up with an answer. They have developed a blood test that tracks a certain type of white blood cell that moves more slowly in people in asthmatics.

The researchers created a handheld device that can take the neutrophils in a single drop of blood and gauge the speed at which these cells move to a point of inflammation.

They say this new test can provide results in less than an hour and represents a fundamental shift in the way asthma is diagnosed.

Traditionally, doctors have looked for constriction in the airway. This test looks for the cause of that constriction.

The findings of the University of Wisconsin research team were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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