Old Asthma Medications May Be Out

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

April 14, 2005

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found that some asthma patients may be taking too much medication.

The study found that patients who take medicine daily had the same amount of severe attacks as those who only took it as needed. Dr. Narinder Arora of the Pulmonary Allergy Clinic warned that this only applies in cases for those with mild asthma.

"It should not be taken as dogmatically line-draw, people should stop using. We know that people with asthma have inflammation of the air-ways," said Dr. Arora.

Doctors suggest that asthma patients use preventative inhalers, which run from $120-$140 and are used up every few weeks. The institute says, however, that if all mild patients shifted to attack-base inhalers only, then Americans would save about $2 billion a year in the United States.

Some Doctors are less extreme, treating the case and limiting dosage instead of eliminating it.

"But there is a mild asthma, which a person needs to be controlled and once that's controlled and I think with one puff twice a day, maybe he's left to one puff [once] a day of the anti-inflammatory inhaler," Arora said.

Asthma suffers have inflamed breathing air-ways that can tighten and spasm.

"When I have the attack it feels like total constriction and I can't get enough air through my passageways," said Daniel Komenda who has asthma.

"It feels like my chest is caving in and it really hurts, you know what I'm saying. It hurts my heart and...It's really painful," said Gabriel Cerritos who also has asthma.

About 26 million Americans suffer from asthma but only around one-quarter have only a mild case of the disease. The government's scientific advisers will review the findings and could make changes to their guidelines as early as 2006.


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