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Friday, December 13, 2013
I am hearing about using Aerobid daily for years to "slow down the deterioration of lung function" in asthmatics, even though a person may be symptom-free right now most of the time. How well established and successful is this idea and method?
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways of unknown cause. This inflammation makes the muscular tissue of the airways more "irritable` and therefore more susceptible to acute narrowing (referred to as bronchospasm). When airway inflammation is poorly controlled, the frequency and magnitude of bronchospasm is often worse. Although airway obstruction resulting from asthmatic bronchospasm is typically episodic and reversible, some studies have indicated that chronic uncontrolled inflammation may lead to the development of `fixed` or nonreversible airway obstruction. Inhaled steroids such as Aerobid have anti-inflammatory properties that are used to suppress inflammation of the airways. This effect is not immediate and inhaled steroids generally must be used on a regular basis to be effective. However, the anti-inflammatory effect of inhaled steroids may lessen the duration and frequency of bronchospastic events and symptoms, and thus decrease the need for other medications that provide more acute relief. Indeed, many patients may become "symptom-free" after treatment with inhaled steroids. Improved inflammatory control may also help prevent the development of fixed obstructive airways disease. For these reasons, even for asymptomatic patients, I would recommend consultation with one`s treating physician before discontinuing an inhaled steroid or other anti-inflammatory medication.
Dennis McGraw, MD
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati