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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Study says breathe easier

Those suffering from mild asthma may not need to take medication on a daily basis, according to a new study.

A recent 44-week study proved that mild asthma no longer requires daily treatment due to a new method that allows patients to better manage the disease.

The new method involves combining controller and reliever medications to reduce the regular dosage amount that a person would normally take, said Dr. Fernando Martinez, a pediatrics professor and the director of the BIO5 Institute. The majority of asthma patients have the mild level of the disease. Martinez, also the director of the Arizona Respiratory Center, who worked on the study, said its purpose was to find a different way to treat asthma so that patients would no longer need a daily regimen of medication.

Dr. Sakina Bajowala, an allergy and immunology specialist with Dukane Allergy Asthma Associates Ltd., did not work on the study but has a private practice where she treats asthmatic patients.

“”When I talk to parents and children about their asthma, once they understand what the risks are of not controlling the asthma, then they’re more than likely to feel more comfortable with using preventative medicine,”” Bajowala said.

The two main problems are that many patients have to take medication every day, and when they skip a dose, it becomes less effective, Martinez said.

Asthma medication is also very expensive. Approximately $40 billion is spent a year for asthma treatment, he said.

Patients use either controller treatments, which are taken every day with or without symptoms present, or reliever treatments, used when a person has symptoms such as a tight chest, trouble exercising or coughing or wheezing, Martinez said.

“”Preventative inhalers are inhalers that are designed to keep inflammation in the lungs under control so that you don’t have flare-ups of your asthma,”” Bajowala said.

The reliever medication, Albuterol, is not designed as a daily treatment, Martinez said.

Relievers loosen and relax the muscles so that the airways can open up, Bajowala said.

In the study, results showed that twice-a-day daily use of the controller medication was not necessary, Martinez said. The successful method combined the controller with the reliever only when symptoms are present.

Instead of taking 720 doses per year, the participants only used one-third of that amount with the new combination method, he said.

One concern parents have about the medication is that it can decrease the velocity in which a child grows, as some growth stunting has been shown when using the medication every day, Martinez said.

But the study’s combination method showed no stunting in the growth of children aged six to 18 in the study. Participants were measured before and after, and on average grew one-centimeter less than those using the corticosteroid treatment, Martinez said.

“”The results are important because they show that if you use much lower doses, you can save a significant amount to the healthcare system,”” Martinez said.

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