MEDICAL TREATMENT OF ASTHMA:
The use of drugs is the cornerstone of treating an acute asthma attack, and drug therapy can indeed by lifesaving. Drugs are also used in a prophylactic (preventive) manner to help prevent or minimize asthma attacks. The decisions as to which drugs are used and how these drugs are given are individualized. These treatment decisions take into account the severity of the disease and the degree of dysfunction, looking at such things as the frequency of attacks, the duration and severity of attacks, and the types of drugs that have been needed to reverse the attacks.
It should be said at this point that strong consideration be given to a consultation with an Asthma Specialist. Such a specialist would typically be a specialist in Allergy and Immunology, a Pediatrician with specialist training in Asthma and Allergy, or a Pulmonologist. The recommendation to see an Allergy Specialist is made on the basis that asthma can be a fatal disease, and that a consultation with or treatment by an asthma specialist is associated with better outcomes, lower costs, and less absence from school and work. There are available two publications that address treatment guidelines for the medical treatment of asthma. One is from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at the NIH, and the other is from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Both articles represent a consensus of a panel of specialists and experts in asthma management. They can be accessed on-line at www.guideline.gov, which will get you to the National Guideline Clearinghouse, where you can do a search under treatment for asthma.
These publications contain much useful information, but the gist of drug therapy is as follows: An attempt is made to classify the severity of the asthma, and whether symptoms are intermittent or persistent. Based on the frequency, duration, and severity of asthma attacks, and based on which drugs have been required to gain control, a daily drug regimen is started in order to prevent or minimize the recurrence of asthma attacks. This is referred to as stepwise approach, where the goal of the drugs is to achieve control of the asthma symptoms. Once control is achieved, a step down approach is advised, which then allows a determination of the minimum amount of medication required to achieve control. Periodic monitoring is then recommended in order to maintain control and to consider further changes in therapy, either up or down.
COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS:
We are glad you have chosen Nature’s Healthcare as your source for information on Complementary and Alternative therapies in asthma, and look forward to helping you achieve your goal of improved health and wellness. The goal of your medical therapy to this point has been to achieve control of your asthma symptoms on as few drugs as possible. That would be our goal as well. That is to say, we will not be recommending to you that you adopt our treatment advice in place of your current drug regimen (i.e. Alternative to). Rather, our advice will be for you to consider our treatment recommendations to be in addition to your current therapy (i.e. Complementary to). You absolutely should not stop any medical therapy you are currently on for asthma. We believe it is safe to say that if you do not need at least an occasional drug for treatment of asthma, you probably do not need our treatment strategy either.
Our recommendations should be shared with your treating physician in order for him/her to be fully aware of your efforts to improve your health. Your physician is likely aware of most of the information we will be sharing with you but finds that evaluating and managing your drug therapy leaves time for little else. As well, the various payment entities for medical care often do recognize the importance of (i.e. pay for) anything other than the prescribing of a drug. As such, treating physicians have little to no financial incentive or time to discuss with you such information, even if they know it to be helpful.
Thus, the information we will be sharing with you is intended to allow you to achieve better control of your symptoms and feel better on the drugs you are currently taking, especially if you are currently on a number of medications and still do not have what you believe to be good control. As well, we hope that our recommendations will facilitate the step down process, in the hope of achieving control on the fewest drugs possible.