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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2012 Jan-Feb;33(1):82-9. doi: 10.2500/aap.2012.33.3499. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Practice patterns for oral corticosteroid burst therapy in the outpatient management of acute asthma exacerbations.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massascusetts 02115, USA.


The use of a short course of oral corticosteroids (OCS), or "steroid burst," is standard practice in the outpatient management of acute severe exacerbations of asthma. Despite published guidelines, the actual practice patterns are unknown. A Web-based survey about typical patterns of OCS administration and total steroid burst dose was administered to pulmonologists (n = 150), allergists (n = 150), primary care physicians (n = 153), and pediatricians (n = 150). No predominant dosing regimen was observed, although a fixed single daily dose was the most commonly prescribed regimen (59%). The majority of physicians treating patients ≥12 years of age prescribed a total burst dose of ≤200 mg and essentially all (99.7%) prescribed ≤600 mg. Among physicians treating younger children, approximately one-quarter prescribed ≤1 mg/kg per day for 3 days (27.8% for children aged 5-11 years of age and 28.1% for children aged <5 years, respectively) and essentially all prescribed ≤2 mg/kg per day for 10 days (99.8% for children aged 5-11 years and 100% for children aged <5 years of age). When prescribing OCS burst therapy for asthma exacerbations, physicians tend to prescribe less than the upper dose recommended in the guidelines; with many physicians prescribing a total steroid burst dose below the lower end of the recommended dose range. Additional study is needed to determine the optimal dose and duration for treating exacerbations of asthma with OCS to minimize both side effects and time to reestablishing asthma control.

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