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Histamine Challenge Test

This test is done to show how your lungs respond to irritation and exercise at the same time. You are carefully monitored during the test by a physiologist. It will help your respiratory specialists to plan the most effective treatment for you.
The challenge test involves breathing in an irritant that may cause the airways to go into spasm and narrow in controlled conditions.


The three different methods use different types of ingredients that can cause irritation:

  • Histamine/ Methacholine cause inflammation of the airways causing symptoms.
  • Mannitol has a drying effect on the airways also causing usual symptoms.

During the Histamine/Methacoline test:

  • You will have resting Spirometry taken before starting the challenge test.
  • You will be asked to breathe in a small amount of the irritant for 2 minutes through a nebuliser.
  • You will have Spirometry repeated within 90 seconds after the nebuliser stops.
  • This is then repeated, gradually increasing the strength of histamine/methacoline to check how your airways react to this irritant.
  • This continues until maximum strength has been used or a reaction happens.
  • This test will show how reactive the airways are to irritant that may be causing your symptoms.

At this point, a nebuliser of reliever will be given to you to relieve any symptoms and relax your airways so that your breathing will return to normal resting levels.

You will be closely supervised by a physiologist during and after this test.

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