New asthma medications improve management of the disease

By Sheryl Kay • Published: June 3rd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Nearly nine million children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma. The breath-robbing disease packs a punch on the playground and at home. It’s scary for parents and kids alike to witness an attack, which leaves youngsters struggling for air.

But in the past decade, big advances have been made in the treatment and management of this often debilitating disease.

According to a recent study presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s annual conference, children treated for asthma just a few years ago fared far better than their counterparts who were treated in the mid-’90s.

The study involved evaluating data from one-hundred-sixty-four youngsters who made hospital visits between 1993 and 1997, and from a group of sixty-five children referred to the same hospital between 2004 and 2007. All of the children suffered from acute asthma. But one noticeable difference was that back in the ’90s none of them took inhaled steroids or combinations of those steroids and other medications. In contrast, more than three-quarters of today’s kids did.

The findings were compelling. Children today are less likely to use oral steroids. When such medication was needed, the study group used about one-quarter of the dose used by children a decade ago. They also relied on rescue inhalers almost fifty percent less often than the earlier group.

While the study does confirm preventive medications help manage the disease, experts remind asthma sufferers that medication is only as reliable as the person who remembers to take it.