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Chem Immunol Allergy. 2006;91:16-29.

Should asthma management include sojourns at high altitude?

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Berufsgenossenschaftliche Kliniken Bergmannsheil, Medizinische Klinik III Pneumologie, Allergologie, Schlaf- und Beatmungsmedizin, Klinikum der Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


Sojourns in the high mountains have been recommended by specialists for patients with asthma since many decades. An inquiry among physicians of the 'Davoser Arzteverein' revealed as early as 1906 that 133/143 patients with bronchial asthma had no or only few asthma attacks during their stay in Davos, and that 81% had a persistent improvement of their disease. These early observations about effects of the alpine climate were, of course, reported at a time, when the spectrum of pharmacotherapy was very limited. However, these observations were consistent and were therefore regarded as proof for the therapeutic value of sojourns under alpine conditions in bronchial asthma. In recent years, however, the indication for asthma treatment in high mountains is increasingly questioned, in particular by health insurance systems. Therefore it is the aim of this contribution to summarize the available data about the effects of a stay of asthmatic patients at 1,500-1,800 m above sea level. It is concluded that the available evidence suggests a significant beneficial effect of high altitude in bronchial asthma, in particular in steroid-dependent patients.

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