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Asthma: Treatments

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

About Treatments for Asthma

Asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure. The goal of asthma treatment is to control the disease. Good asthma control will:

  • Prevent chronic and troublesome symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath
  • Reduce your need for quick-relief medicines (see below)
  • Help you maintain good lung function
  • Let you maintain your normal activity level and sleep through the night
  • Prevent asthma attacks that could result in an emergency room visit or hospital stay

To control asthma, partner with your doctor to manage your asthma or your child's asthma. Children aged 10 or older - and younger children who are able - should take an active role in their asthma care.

Taking an active role to control your asthma involves:

  • Working with your doctor to treat other conditions that can interfere with asthma management.
  • Avoiding things that worsen your asthma (asthma triggers). However, one trigger you should not...

Read more about Asthma: Treatments NIH - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Intranasal corticosteroids for asthma control in people with coexisting asthma and rhinitis

It has been suggested for nearly twenty years that nasal sprays containing corticosteroids might improve asthma outcomes in people suffering from both asthma and rhinitis. Intranasal corticosteroids had few side effects in people with mild asthma, but the improvements in symptoms scores and lung function could have arisen by chance. Intranasal corticosteroids may be a promising alternative treatment for patients with rhinitis and mild asthma. More research is needed before considering changing the current practice of prescribing corticosteroids delivered by oral inhalers for asthma, and by nasal sprays for rhinitis.

Not enough evidence on whether antibiotics given to people with acute asthma (without evidence of infection) is effective

Patients with acute asthma who require admission to hospital are often treated with antibiotics, in case the underlying cause of the attack is a bacterial infection. This review examines the evidence regarding this therapy and whether it is justified in patients where x‐rays and other diagnostic parameters do not indicate a bacterial infection. A limited number of studies were identified by searches conducted and data from them were extracted and analysed. The review concludes that whilst there may be little evidence to support the use of antibiotics in the treatment of acute asthma, more work is required for specific patient subgroups, notably older patients.

Family therapy for asthma in children

Psychological factors may have an effect on asthma in children, or its severity. As some children with families who are having problems have severe asthma, family therapy has been tried. The aim is to resolve any problems there might be in a family, in case they are causing the child stress and then making asthma worse. The review found some evidence from two trials that family therapy (in addition to standard asthma treatments) might help reduce a child's asthma symptoms, but more research is needed to be certain.

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Summaries for consumers

Intranasal corticosteroids for asthma control in people with coexisting asthma and rhinitis

It has been suggested for nearly twenty years that nasal sprays containing corticosteroids might improve asthma outcomes in people suffering from both asthma and rhinitis. Intranasal corticosteroids had few side effects in people with mild asthma, but the improvements in symptoms scores and lung function could have arisen by chance. Intranasal corticosteroids may be a promising alternative treatment for patients with rhinitis and mild asthma. More research is needed before considering changing the current practice of prescribing corticosteroids delivered by oral inhalers for asthma, and by nasal sprays for rhinitis.

Reslizumab (EU: Cinqaero, U.S.: Cinqair) for severe asthma: Overview

The drug reslizumab (trade name EU: Cinqaero, U.S.: Cinqair) has been approved in Germany since August 2016 for the treatment of severe eosinophilic asthma in adults.

Mepolizumab (Nucala) for severe asthma: Overview

The new drug mepolizumab (trade name Nucala) has been approved in Germany since December 2015 for the treatment of severe asthma in adults.

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More about Asthma: Treatments

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Other terms to know:
Bronchi, Lungs

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