Researchers have built a flu breathalyzer that lets you diagnose whether you have the flu or not without having to go to the doctor. The device is not pricey to make and it can even be improved to detect other diseases like Ebola.
Influenza, or most commonly known as the “flu,” is a contagious disease that easily spreads from one person to another especially if the person has weak immune system. Because it is hard to differentiate the symptoms of flu with other viral and bacterial diseases, the most effective way to know is to really have a diagnosis.
These influenza viruses should not be ignored as they can cause infections to a person’s nose, throat, and lungs. Moreover, it can lead to complications and severe illnesses. At some cases, influenza may also cause death.
Flu Detector Using A Single Breath
In an amazing invention led by Perena Gouma, a Materials Science and Engineering Department Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), detecting flu is made easier by only using a person’s breath. The mechanism of the device works like that of breathalyzers used by police officers to determine if a person is drunk or not.
Gouma says the flu detector “relies on gas-selective sensing elements.” The device’s smart sensors look for the “concentration of biomarkers in the breath that signal a disease” which includes traces of ammonia and nitric oxide.
The breathalyzer specifically detects flu virus infection that may potentially be available over the counter soon. It will be a “personalized diagnostics tool” that would help people monitor their health anywhere they are. There is also going to be an option for sharing the data to the patient’s physician in real time which makes health monitoring really convenient.
Valuable Applications By Modifying Sensors
Gouma shares that conventional biomarker detectors are done through expensive and highly technical lab equipment. Now, though, ordinary people can easily use the portable, handled and potentially wireless device. The breathalyzer is also inexpensive.
This would be of great help as time is critical in detecting one’s ailment. Moreover, there are other innovations and applications that can be tapped with the detector.
Breathalyzers for asthma and diabetes has also been previously developed by Gouma. What makes it remarkable is that the technology can be easily modified to detect other diseases like Ebola by changing its sensors.
As of now, there is still no definite time on when the flu breathalyzer will be available on the market as further clinical trials are still being done. Commercialization of the tech might come sooner rather than later, though, as Gouma says they are “already exploring their options.”