RESEARCHERS in Southampton are using new technology to ensure asthma sufferers’ symptoms do not flare up.

At present, asthma patients must blow forcefully into a mouthpiece in order to measure how fast they breathe out.

This can sometimes lead to discomfort for the patient.

But with new contactless measuring systems, natural breathing patterns can be captured within a matter of minutes.

The new test involves projecting a light onto patients’ chests to capture their breathing movements, which are then processed via computer - all within five minutes.

The technology is currently being trialled on patients at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

The results will be compared to the currently-used methods

Asthma is a common lung condition which causes breathing difficulties due to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and chest tightness.

It affects people of all ages and there are 5.4 million people currently receiving treatment for asthma in the UK, with around 10 per cent suffering from the most severe form which leaves them unable to control their symptoms.

Panagiotis Sakkatos, a respiratory physiotherapist PhD student at the University of Southampton’s faculty of health sciences, said: “Having control over their condition is a major goal for people with asthma.”

“Many use inhalers and steroids to do this, but having an early indicator of when their asthma is getting worse or better is important to optimise their control of it.”

He said while current techniques and devices to monitor breathing patterns worked well alongside medication, the aim was to develop the ability to monitor patients without exacerbating their symptoms.

Mr Sakkatos added: “Using the checkerboard test, patients are able to breathe naturally while their respiratory patterns are recorded and without the need for a facemask or mouthpiece.”