Millions of patients living with asthma may see no real benefit from taking their medicine every day. About 25 million people in the US suffer from asthma, but a new study shows that many of them may not actually need the inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) medicine they take two times per day, every day, to prevent symptoms.
Unlike albuterol (the medicine that opens the airways, used to treat symptoms or asthma attacks), patients who take ICS inhalers are told to use the medicine even when they have no symptoms, reports ABC News.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association asserts that this medication may not actually be necessary. The revelation may be important news for patients who suffer from the lung disease that costs billions in health care dollars, and also leads to missed days of work and school.
Researchers from 10 different institutions in the US were involved in the study, which looked at 342 adults with mild to moderate asthma who were on inhaled corticosteroids. They were randomly placed in three groups to study how effective different medication management approaches were.
The first group’s medication was adjusted by a physician every six weeks based on standard clinical guidelines; the second group’s medication was adjusted every six weeks based on a breathing test; the third group adjusted their medication each day, based on their symptoms.
CBS News notes that the researchers discovered that there was no difference in results between the three groups, meaning that those who took inhaled corticosteroids to control their asthma were no better off than those who self-adjusted their medication. Lead author Dr. William J. Calhoun, professor and vice chair for research in internal medicine at UTMB, stated:
“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. Our findings build on a considerable foundation of research in the field and come at a time when asthma cases are rising at an alarming rate – especially in lower-income communities.”
Dr. Homer Boushey, a longtime asthma researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that these results do not apply to people who suffer from severe asthma. Roushey stated that, “People underestimate the severity of their disease. This is really only for people with truly mild disease.”
If you take inhaled corticosteroids for your asthma, would you consider changing your medication use based on this study?