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Feather versus non‐feather bedding for asthma

An allergen is the substance that causes an allergic reaction in someone who is hypersensitive to it. A major allergen for asthma is the house dust mite. It is thought that artificial (man‐made) fibre fillings for pillows and bedding are less likely to gather allergens than feather‐filled pillows and quilts. However, there is some evidence that in fact, feather bedding may in fact be less likely to cause asthma. The review found no trials comparing feathers with man‐made fibres, and research is needed to be certain which is better for people with asthma.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2009

Alexander technique for chronic asthma

During an asthma attack, the airways narrow, causing breathing problems, wheezing and coughing. Asthma can be caused by allergies, pollens, stress or air pollution and can be fatal. The Alexander Technique is a form of therapy involving a series of movements designed to correct posture and bring the body into natural alignment and aid relaxation. The Alexander technique has been used by people with asthma, to try and improve breathing. The review of trials found there was not enough evidence to show the effects of the Alexander Technique in reducing the need to use medication for asthma. More research is needed.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2016

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.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2009

Colchicine as an oral corticosteroid sparing agent for asthma

Asthma can be treated with drugs which aim to reduce inflammation in the airways. Inhaled corticosteroids are frequently used, but occasionally individuals require oral steroids for adequate control. However, oral steroids are frequently associated with severe side‐effects. Colchicine has been suggested as a useful 'add‐on' therapy to oral steroid treatment with the aim of reducing the dose requirement in such asthma. There is a need for well‐designed trials addressing this question before recommendations can be made.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2010

Does reducing the amount of salt in a diet improve asthma symptoms?

A review of the current literature suggests that reduction in the amount of dietary sodium consumed has no significant effect on the symptoms of asthma but may be associated with improvements in some lung function measurements in exercise‐induced asthma.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2014

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.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: May 4, 2017

Dapsone as an oral corticosteroid sparing agent for asthma

Some asthma sufferers rely on oral corticosteroids to control their disease. Corticosteroids help reduce the inflammation of the airways associated with asthma. Long‐term use of these drugs has serious side effects, so other ways to reduce the need for corticosteroids are sometimes tried. Dapsone does have anti‐inflammatory properties, and may have an effect on asthma symptoms and steroid doses taken. However, this review found that there was no evidence for or against the use of dapsone in the treatment of corticosteroid‐dependent asthmatic patients. More research is needed.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2011

Selenium supplementation for asthma

Selenium is a trace mineral, and it is thought that deficiency of selenium may play some role in the development of asthma. Some studies suggest that selenium supplementation for people with chronic asthma may help to improve symptoms. This review found some evidence from only one small trial that selenium supplementation might help reduce symptoms of chronic asthma symptoms, but more research is needed to be certain.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2008

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.

Informed Health Online [Internet] - Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG).

Version: May 2, 2016

Troleandomycin as an oral corticosteroid sparing agent in stable asthma

Troleandomycin is a macrolide antibiotic with established effects in the treatment of infections. It alters the breakdown of corticosteroid drugs, so may be of benefit in asthma. This review found three small studies, that provide no evidence to justify the use of this drug in asthma.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2011

Tartrazine exclusion for allergic asthma

Tartrazine is the best known and one of the most commonly used food additives. Food colorants are also used in many medications as well as foods. There is no evidence that tartrazine makes asthma worse or avoiding it makes asthma patients any better.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2012

Calorie‐controlled diets for chronic asthma

It is thought that high calorie diets may contribute to the development of asthma. Theoretically, reducing the amount of calorie consumed as part of a diet may help to alleviate the symptoms of asthma. This review was limited by the small size of the studies and the obese population of asthma patients recruited to the study. No firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the effects of dietary manipulation, and more research is required.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2008

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.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2008

Speleotherapy (exposure to salt air, usually underground) for asthma

Speleotherapy (staying in underground environments) is believed to be of some benefit to people with asthma. People spend short periods in specifically designated caves or mines, sometimes doing particular physical or breathing exercises. There are some wards for longer stays. Benefits are believed to come from air quality, underground climate, air pressure or radiation. These features differ among caves and mines (for example, there are high levels of radiation in some mines, and different types of humidity). No evidence from randomised controlled trials was found and more research is needed.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2014

Inhaled beta2‐agonists for asthma in mechanically ventilated patients

During an asthma attack, the airways narrow, causing breathing problems, wheezing and coughing. A small number of people with asthma need medications given by tubes during mechanically assisted breathing (ventilation). Inhaled bronchodilators help relieve asthma attacks in people who can breathe on their own. However, it is not known if inhaled beta2‐agonists (commonly used as bronchodilators), work well for people on ventilation. This review of trials did not find enough evidence to show the effect of inhaled beta2‐agonists on people who have mechanically assisted breathing or tubes. More research is needed.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2012

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.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2009

Antifungal drugs (azoles) for allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis associated with asthma

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is a condition that complicates some people with chronic asthma. Standard treatment for this condition is high doses of oral steroids. The azole antifungal drugs attack the fungus that causes this condition and short term studies suggest that they may have some benefit when added to standard therapy.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2014

Gastro‐oesophageal reflux treatment for asthma in adults and children

People with asthma also often have gastro‐oesophageal reflux (where acid from the stomach comes back up the gullet (esophagus)). Reflux is very common in people with asthma. It may be a trigger for asthma, or alternatively, asthma may trigger reflux. Treatments that can help reflux include antacids and drugs to suppress stomach acids or empty the stomach. This review of trials found that using reflux treatments does not generally help ease asthma symptoms. While asthma may be improved in some people, it was not possible to predict who might benefit.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2008

Ionisers for chronic asthma

Ion generators have been marketed for use in homes to remove dust and smoke particles in order to improve symptoms in people with asthma. Although complex laboratory studies show that ion generators alter airways function, the few studies which have been conducted in the homes of people with asthma, demonstrate no significant benefit in improving lung function or symptoms.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2012

Chloroquine as a steroid sparing agent for asthma

Asthma can be treated with drugs which aim to reduce inflammation in the airways. Inhaled corticosteroids are frequently used, but occasionally individuals require oral steroids for adequate control. However, oral steroids are frequently associated with severe side‐effects. Chloroquine has been suggested as a useful 'add‐on' therapy to oral steroid treatment with the aim of reducing the dose requirement in such asthma. This review found one small cross‐over study but this did not provide adequate evidence to decide whether chloroquine should be offered to reduce or eliminate oral steroid treatment. There is a need for well‐designed trials addressing this question before recommendations can be made.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Plain Language Summaries [Internet] - John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Version: 2011

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