Asthma Question


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Jul 15, 2008
I've heard people talk about the methacholine challenge test in regards to getting a waiver for asthma. Right now I'm pretty much just waiting to hear back that I've been DQ for asthma and was wondering what the test was exactly? any insight would be appreciated
I think there are some different variations of the test, but essentially, they give you a drug that people with asthma will have a reaction to.

They gave me the drug five times, each time with a little bit more intensity. After each dose, I blew as hard as possible for as long as possible into a machine that recorded how it affected me. The rule is, if there is no more than a 20% change in your performance after taking the drug, then you dont have asthma.

I had some asthmatic symptoms when i was younger, but grew out of it at about age 12. The test was no problem for me. Just follow their instructions and try as hard as you can, and it will work out.

I got the test last year and passed. I didnt even need a waiver, they just got rid of the DQ.
I'll answer more comprehensively tomorrow night. Have to get up real early for a flight. The methacholine challenge test is NOT a standard request. It is used when either DoDMERB or the waiver authority thinks the respiratory history problems are vague. For these purposes, you only get this test when requested to do so. I'll explain the test tomorrow. Thx for your patience.:thumb:

Larry Mullen
Deputy Director, DoDMERB
Etaylor2013 - Here is probably the most succinct answer to your question regarding what a methacholine challenge test is:

(from web MD) "Classic asthma causes intermittent episodes of wheezing with chest tightness, shortness of breath, and cough. When the patient is currently having such an episode, spirometry demonstrates airway obstruction (a low FEV1/FVC) and airflow improves within 15 minutes (FEV1 increases more than 12%) after inhaling a couple of puffs of albuterol (a bronchodilator which is much stronger than caffeine). If the patient has recovered from the symptoms previously experienced, then spirometry may be normal and a methacholine challenge test (MCT) will demonstrate twitchy airways (bronchial hyper-responsiveness, BHR) due to the airway inflammation in the lungs."

There is no gold standard for testing for asthma. The MCT is the "closest" to a "definitive" test available, but it only indicates what an individual experiences at that particular time on that particular day. A positive result will most likely confirm a respiratory problem....a negative test result does NOT necessarily confirm or deny that the person being tested does NOT have asthma.

I hope this helps. You've already contacted me privately, so I want to ensure you have a complete response one way or the other. Thx for the opportunity to assist:thumb:
etaylor -
From my own daughter's personal experience -
I would strongly suggest that you do not seek to take the MCT unless you have been advised to by DoDMERB.
My daughter knew she would be dq'd for asthma as well - we waited and shewas not required to take this test - AROTC requested that she have a Spirometry which is much simpler and her waiver was granted based on this test.

Everyone has a different medical history when it comes to asthma - it may be difficult to know if this test would indeed be requested or not. It is very expensive and if you wait then the Govt. will pay for it instead of you.

Do be prepared to get notified of at least one remedial - probably starting with a request of your "Birth to Present" medical records if you haven't received that request yet. Try to get all requests done on a timely basis so your file can keep moving forward -
Good Luck.
While Just_a_Mom is spot on with not getting something unless we request it, we have modified the birth to present records request, except for specifically selected cases (we do learn and are very cognizant about getting what we need, but being extremely sensitive to the "hassle factor" on the applicant). Now, more often than not, we ask for records from age 10 - present for our Academy and ROTC applicants. Thx Just_A_Mom for your first hand experience:thumb: