Inhalation Therapy: Making a Breakthrough in Asthma Management

Shruti, 14-year-old, with her sparkling bright smile, came running home exuberantly, flashing the trophy she won in a dance competition, which a few months back seemed impossible. Being an asthma patient even a little exhaustion or stress would make her struggle for breathing.


She had been on oral medication for a long time, but still, her stamina was less than that of other children. Even slightest physical activity induced coughing and wheezing. Worse still, the associated side-effects of drugs, such as stomach ulcers, depression, muscle weakness, and skin bruises turned into more roadblocks for her in leading a normal life.


But thanks to a new mode of treatment, her quality of life improved dramatically. For Shruti, inhalation therapy proved to be far more effective and safer in the long term unlike the oral form of treatment. Dance is the greatest passion for Shruti, which she is now pursuing without being fearful of asthma flare-ups.


Shruti is amongst the many that grapple with the condition. But with an accurate treatment therapy and proper management, it is easy to gain control over respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases), nonreversible lung diseases that usually occurs due to cigarette smoking, and allergic rhinitis.


Inhaler Corticosteroids as Breakthrough Medication –


Dr. Pawan Agarwal, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist-CMRI, Kolkata said, “Inhaled corticosteroid therapy (ICT) is the cornerstone of asthma management. For the effectiveness and safety of any treatment modality, optimal drug delivery is crucial. In the case of ICT, the drug reaches the inflamed airways directly in small doses, limiting the potential side effects. In the case of oral medication, the drug dosage is many times higher than in ICT. This excess dosage then reaches other parts of the body too, where it is not required and increases the systemic side-effects.”


The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP), in its updated 2007 guidelines, recommended the use of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy for mild, persistent asthma across all age groups, including children.


Asthma is a chronic disease which affects large populations worldwide and its number is rising every year. According to the WHO Fact sheet, between 100 and 150 million people around the globe — roughly the equivalent of the population of the Russian Federation — suffer from asthma. In India, the soaring numbers have reached 15-20 million and the number will continue to grow until adequate emphasis is laid on the importance of identifying the right medication, which can help manage asthma effectively2.


Busting the myth about corticosteroids –


Inhaled corticosteroids have been recognized and widely accepted as the mainstay of asthma management. Unfortunately, due to lack of awareness, many people remain reluctant to take the therapy. For many people, the word ‘steroid’ conjures up the vision of building up muscles. They confuse corticosteroids with anabolic steroids.


Dr. Pawan Agarwal, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist-CMRI, Kolkata said, “It is important to understand that corticosteroids are not the same as anabolic steroids, which are taken by some athletes to illegally build the muscle mass. Corticosteroids are used in asthma treatment and they do not build muscles or enhance performance. They are hormones that are naturally produced by your body. And when a doctor prescribes you inhaled corticosteroids, he is giving you the same hormone in small quantities to ease your inflamed airways.”


For people suffering from asthma and COPD, corticosteroids can be life-saving as they help to prevent or reverse the process of inflammation in the airways while making them less sensitive to the triggers.


Dr. Pawan Agarwal, Senior Consultant Pulmonologist-CMRI, Kolkata said, “Inhaled corticosteroids have been found to bring about improvements in the quality of life of patients by helping reduce the frequency of asthma attacks, improving asthma control, reducing the requirement of oral steroids and by bringing down the frequency of Emergency Room visits and hospitalizations.”


With changing times, the burden of diseases has increased manifold. Therefore, it is important to take charge of your health through the use of effective treatment. With proper management, you can gain control over asthma.

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