Asthma (Restrictive Airway Disease) Asthma is a condition which includes bronchial spasm and inflammation. Both of these can contribute to an effect on evidentiary breath testing.

The bronchial spasm will significantly impair the individual’s ability to produce a breath specimen. The forced expiration as well as the extended exhalation required to provide a breath specimen could result in an error message “minimum volume not achieved”. Furthermore, the forced expiration would frequently cause paroxysms of coughing.

The bronchial spasm can be initiated by two mechanisms, the first mechanism could involve the neurologic innervation of the esophagus as well as the bronchial passages since the neurologic innervation of these two are intimately associated anatomically. Additionally, and more likely, aspiration of material from the gastrointestinal tract into the respiratory tract would initiate bronchial spasm. This occurs due to reflux.

The inflammatory condition associated with asthma increases the blood flow to the lungs, thereby bringing more alcohol to the air passages, which could impart a greater amount of alcohol to the breath specimen. Inflammatory material would also contain increased amounts of alcohol which would be imparted to the breath specimen as it passes through the airways, thereby causing more contamination of the breath specimen. This has been described by Hlastala, PhD., entitled “Paradigm Shift for the Alcohol Breath Testing” which appeared in the peer reviewed journal, Forensic Science, in March 2010, Volume, 55 No. 2.

Additionally, asthma is frequently associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

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