Mild asthma might not need to be treated every day: Study

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LONDON - A new study by US researchers suggests that mild asthma might not need to be treated daily.

A “preventer” inhaler containing corticosteroid is part of many asthma sufferers’ daily routine, but it can result in reduced growth and children often forget to take it.

The new study shows that it is possible to manage the symptoms without a daily dose.

Asthma patients commonly use two types of inhalers- ‘relievers’ which are used when there is breathing problems and ‘preventers’ which are taken every morning and evening.

However, researchers at the University of Arizona say that many children stop taking the daily medication if their symptoms disappear.

“If you have a daily drug and a very significant number are not taking it, then that tells you it’s a losing strategy,” Prof Fernando Martinez from the University of Arizona told the BBC.

“We want to find something which is more child- and parent-friendly as well as avoid the growth effect,” he said.

In all, 288 children and teenagers with mild and persistent asthma took part in the 44-week trial.

The study showed that taking corticosteroids twice a day was still the most effective treatment.

However, those taking the medication grew by 1.1cm (0.5in) less than children not taking the drug during the trial.

Importantly, asthma was also managed without daily treatment if the corticosteroids were combined with the ‘reliever’ inhaler.

This eliminated the effect on growth and the researchers said it would be an easier form of treatment for children.

The researchers said further clinical trials would be needed to verify the results.

“I’m continuing to recommend daily corticosteroid to my patients, but I know some of them will not take it,’ said Martinez.

Meanwhile, Asthma UK said the study confirmed that daily-inhaled corticosteroids were the most effective treatment.

“The use of combined ‘preventer’ and ‘reliever’ medicines as rescue therapy appears to be superior to ‘reliever’ inhalers alone and offers a new ’step-down’ approach to the management of mild, well-controlled asthma in children and young people who find it difficult to adhere to long-term daily treatment with inhaled steroids,” said Dr Samantha Walker, executive director of research and policy at Asthma UK.

“Many parents have concerns about their child’s steroid intake. However, research shows that children on low daily doses of ‘preventer’ medicines show no difference in growth. At higher doses, the picture is less clear. For all children, treatment plans should be reviewed at least every six months,” she added.

The US study is published in The Lancet. (ANI)

Filed under: Health

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