Because of recent interest in the possible benefits to asthmatic patients of negative ion generators and the largely uncontrolled and inconclusive nature of earlier studies a double blind crossover study of this treatment was carried out in 20 subjects with stable asthma over six months. After an initial two week period without an ioniser, active or placebo ionisers were installed in subjects' bedrooms for two eight week periods separated by a four week "washout" period when no ioniser was present. The study was completed by a final four week period when no ioniser was present. Subjects were randomly allocated to receive an active or a placebo ioniser first. Subjects recorded their peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) twice daily, completed a daily symptom score questionnaire, and noted any treatment they took on a diary card. Recordings were completed throughout the trial. Ion counts and dust concentrations were measured in subjects' bedrooms during the study. Mean ion counts rose considerably when ionisers were activated (p less than 0.001). There were no significant differences in PEFR, symptom score, or consumption of medication between the periods that active ionisers and either no ionisers or placebo ionisers were in operation. This study has failed to show a statistically significant benefit in asthmatic subjects from the use of negative ion generators.
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