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Wednesday 01 January 2003

Long-term management of asthma.

By: Kabra SK, Lodha R.

Indian J Pediatr 2003 Jan;70(1):63-72

Long-term management of asthma includes identification and avoidance of precipitating factors of asthma, pharmacotherapy and home management plan. Common precipitating factors include viral upper respiratory infections, exposure to smoke, dust, cold food and cold air. Avoidance of common precipitating factors has been shown to help in better control of asthma. Pharmacotherapy is the main stay of treatment of asthma. Commonly used drugs for better control of asthma are long and short acting bronchodilators, mast cell stabilizers, inhaled steroids, theophylline and steroid sparing agents. After assessment of severity most appropriate medications are selected. For mild episodic asthma the medications are short acting beta agonists as and when required. For mild persistent asthma: as and when required bronchodilators along with a daily maintenance treatment in form of low dose inhaled steroids or cromolyn or oral theophylline or leukotriene antagonists are required. Moderate persistent asthma should be treated with inhaled steroids along with long acting beta agonists for symptom control. For severe persistent asthma the recommended treatment includes inhaled steroids, long acting beta agonists with or without theophylline. If symptoms are not well controlled, a minimal dose of oral prednisolone preferably on alternate days may be needed in few patients. Patients should be followed up every 8-12 weeks. On each follow up visit patients should be examined by a doctor, compliance to medications should be checked and actual inhalation technique is observed. Depending on the assessment, medications may be decreased or stepped up. For exercise induced bronchoconstriction: cromolyn, short or long acting beta agonists or leukotriene antagonists may be used. In children with seasonal asthma, maintenance treatment according to assessed severity should be started 2 weeks in advance and continued throughout the season. These patients should be reassessed after discontinuing the treatment. Parents should be given a written plan for management of acute exacerbation at home.

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