Exhaled nitric oxide decreases during exercise in non-asthmatic children

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Exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) measurements are recommended to be performed before spirometry and exercise challenge tests because forced breathing might influence FENO values. Information on the effect of exercise on FENO is lacking in non-asthmatic children.


To investigate the effect on FENO of a standardized exercise challenge test on a treadmill in non-asthmatic children with and without allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (AR) symptoms.


From the case-control study ‘Asthma and allergy among school children in Nordland’, 330 non-asthmatic pupils age 8–16 years were enrolled. FENO was measured at baseline and at 1 min and 30 min after exercise challenge test by the single breath technique with EcoMedics Exhalazer® (Eco Physics, Duernten, Switzerland).


Pair-wise comparison of FENO from baseline demonstrated a highly significant reduction in FENO post-exercise for all children at 1 min (27.4%) and at 30 min (16.1%) (P < 0.001). The AR group had a significantly higher decline in FENO value at 1 min post-exercise compared to the non-AR group, 4.2 parts per billion (ppb) vs 2.6 ppb (P < 0.001). Decline in FENO immediately post-exercise was more significant if baseline FENO was ≥ 20 ppb; mean reduction 9.9 (95% CI: 8.7–11.4) ppb.


FENO is reduced by 27.4% immediately after a standardized treadmill exercise test in non-asthmatic children. Pupils reporting AR symptoms demonstrate a larger decline in FENO value at 1 min post-exercise compared to pupils without AR symptoms. These findings confirm that children should refrain from physical activity before FENO measurement.

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