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Asthma Needs to Be Individualized

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MONDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Every time an asthma patient sees a doctor, his asthma should be assessed to determine if it's being properly controlled, says a new practice parameter in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The parameter authors noted that asthma symptoms change over time and need to be constantly monitored by a doctor or other health-care professional to ensure that a patient's asthma is under control.

"Asthma is a chronic disease and needs to be continually reassessed. Every doctor or clinic visit should consist of a detailed assessment to determine if the patient's asthma is or is not under control. People with asthma should not be satisfied with less than well controlled or completely controlled asthma," parameter lead author Dr. James T. Li said in a prepared statement.

"Asthma is not a static disease, and each patient reacts differently to mediation, their environment, triggers and changing allergens that affect their asthma symptoms. Assessing these changes requires strong communication between the doctor and patient on an ongoing basis to determine whether changes are needed in medication -- either an increase or decrease," Li said.

The new practice parameter recommends that:

  • Asthma control should be assessed at every clinic or physician visit.
  • Asthma management should be individualized because each patient reacts differently to medication.
  • Asthma control demands a close relationship between the doctor and patient.
  • Asthma-management decisions should be driven by the level of asthma control. If asthma is completely or well-controlled, patients may be able to take less medicine. Uncontrolled asthma may require increased medication and more frequent visits to the doctor.

The parameter says that an asthma patient should expect complete or well-controlled asthma. Complete control is defined as: full activity; no asthma symptoms during the night or day; no need for "as needed" Albuterol; no missed school or work; normal lung function.

The parameter was developed by the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters for Allergy and Immunology, a coalition of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

According to the groups, asthma affects approximately 20 million Americans and is responsible for nearly 5,000 deaths a year. In addition, there are almost 2 million asthma-related visits to the emergency department each year.

More information

To learn more, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, news release, Oct. 25, 2005
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