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Updated Asthma Guidelines: What’s New?

Recently, the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program published its third edition of the Asthma Management Guidelines. Undoubtedly, with the emergence of the Coronavirus Pandemic and new studies and trials, the way we go about protecting asthmatics has changed a little. As science continues to evolve and learn more, we are better able to control symptoms and live a life with fewer interruptions by the disease. Conservehealth is bringing you some of the new guidelines so that you can benefit from NAEPP’s findings.

Treatments

In the past, patients that required daily maintenance used separate medications, something to mitigate airway constriction and another to combat inflammation. Depending on a patient’s maintenance regimen, it could be very troublesome to add in other medications that would increase the effectiveness of current medications. The new guidelines offer some direction on using inhalers that combine multiple medications to act as both maintenance therapy and fast-acting rescue response. Consolidating the number of inhalers a patient needs just makes sense for the way people live their lives, not to mention that it increases both the amount of the anti-inflammatory agent as well as the anti-constriction agent.

Allergens

The guidelines also touch on allergens and how they relate to asthma. For those asthmatics who are triggered by allergens, it is recommended that they take a multifaceted approach to mitigating allergens. The use of allergy medications, covers for pillows and mattresses, air purification systems, and more are just some of the ways allergens can be reduced in an effort to curb allergy-related asthma attacks; and these interventions should be implemented where possible. Allergy interventions like medication and other special precautions are not recommended for those who do not exhibit symptoms or sensitization to indoor allergens. 

Diagnosis

Interestingly enough, diagnosing asthma has also come a long way. One of the more reliable new diagnostic methods involves measuring nitric oxide. When we exhale, in addition to the carbon dioxide we also exhale other chemical compounds, and nitric oxide is one of them. Measuring the amount of this compound is a potential asthma sufferer’s breath can be very instrumental in making a diagnosis. Higher levels point to inflammation in the lungs, which may be a direct result of asthma. Knowing just how much nitric oxide is present can also help a physician to determine whether or not steroid medications will reduce and control asthma symptoms. These new guidelines also touch on bronchial thermoplasty and immunotherapy. Bronchial thermoplasty isn’t recommended for those over the age of 18 with severe, persistent asthma. Immunotherapy and allergic asthma are also addressed. These updates are not a complete revision, but rather an assessment of six areas. The inclusion of implementation guidance for each recommendation is intended to provide clear summaries of the new information and make it easier for physicians and patients to discuss. When patients feel more like a partner in their healthcare, they may be more comfortable asking questions, making suggestions, and sharing information that could make a difference in their care.

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