Asthma patients may not need daily doses of inhaled steroids, a finding that could alter treatment for millions.
US researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston found that people who use corticosteroids every day to control mild asthma do no better than those who use them only when they have symptoms.
"The discovery that these two courses of treatment do not differ significantly could eventually change the way doctors and patients manage asthma, providing an option that is easier to follow and possibly less expensive," said lead author William Calhoun.
Calhoun and his team drew their conclusions after monitoring more than 340 adults with mild to moderate persistent asthma in an attempt to assess different strategies for long-term asthma care.
Making note of bronchial reactivity, lung function, days missed from school or work and the exacerbation of symptoms and attacks over a period of nine months, they found "no measurable difference" among treatment methods.
"We hope our findings prompt patients to talk with their doctors and become more active participants in effectively managing their condition," Calhoun said.Currently, asthma patients are generally prescribed a twice-daily dose of an inhaled corticosteroid, such as beclomethasone or fluticasone, as well as albuterol to open the airways in the event of serious symptoms.
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