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ABSTRACT: Asthma, a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways, may be classified as mild intermittent or mild, moderate, or severe persistent. Patients with persistent asthma require medications that provide long-term control of their disease and medications that provide quick relief of symptoms. Medications for long-term control of asthma include inhaled corticosteroids, cromolyn, nedocromil, leukotriene modifiers and long-acting bronchodilators. Inhaled corticosteroids remain the most effective anti-inflammatory medications in the treatment of asthma. Quick-relief medications include short-acting beta2 agonists, anticholinergics and systemic corticosteroids. The frequent use of quick-relief medications indicates poor asthma control and the need for larger doses of medications that provide long-term control of asthma. New guidelines from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel II recommend an aggressive "step-care" approach. In this approach, therapy is instituted at a step higher than the patient's current level of asthma severity, with a gradual "step down" in therapy once control is achieved.
Bending the Rules to Get a Medication - Curbside Consultation
Management of Acute Asthma Exacerbations - Article
ABSTRACT: Asthma exacerbations can be classified as mild, moderate, severe, or life threatening. Criteria for exacerbation severity are based on symptoms and physical examination parameters, as well as lung function and oxygen saturation. In patients with a peak expiratory flow of 50 to 79 percent of their personal best, up to two treatments of two to six inhalations of short-acting beta2 agonists 20 minutes apart followed by a reassessment of peak expiratory flow and symptoms may be safely employed at home. Administration using a hand-held metered-dose inhaler with a spacer device is at least equivalent to nebulized beta2 agonist therapy in children and adults. In the ambulatory and emergency department settings, the goals of treatment are correction of severe hypoxemia, rapid reversal of airflow obstruction, and reduction of the risk of relapse. Multiple doses of inhaled anticholinergic medication combined with beta2 agonists improve lung function and decrease hospitalization in school-age children with severe asthma exacerbations. Intravenous magnesium sulfate has been shown to significantly increase lung function and decrease the necessity of hospitalization in children. The administration of systemic corticosteroids within one hour of emergency department presentation decreases the need for hospitalization, with the most pronounced effect in patients with severe exacerbations. Airway inflammation can persist for days to weeks after an acute attack; therefore, more intensive treatment should be continued after discharge until symptoms and peak expiratory flow return to baseline.
ABSTRACT: Initial evaluation of the patient with chronic cough (i.e., of more than eight weeks’ duration) should include a focused history and physical examination, and in most patients, chest radiography. Patients who are taking an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor should switch to a medication from another drug class. The most common causes of chronic cough in adults are upper airway cough syndrome, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease, alone or in combination. If upper airway cough syndrome is suspected, a trial of a decongestant and a first-generation antihistamine is warranted. The diagnosis of asthma should be confirmed based on clinical response to empiric therapy with inhaled bronchodilators or corticosteroids. Empiric treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease should be initiated in lieu of testing for patients with chronic cough and reflux symptoms. Patients should avoid exposure to cough-evoking irritants, such as cigarette smoke. Further testing, such as high-resolution computed tomography, and referral to a pulmonologist may be indicated if the cause of chronic cough is not identified. In children, a cough lasting longer than four weeks is considered chronic. The most common causes in children are respiratory tract infections, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Evaluation of children with chronic cough should include chest radiography and spirometry.
ABSTRACT: Patients with suspected food allergies are commonly seen in clinical practice. Although up to 15 percent of parents believe their children have food allergies, these allergies have been confirmed in only 1 to 3 percent of all Americans. Family physicians must be able to separate true food allergies from food intolerance, food dislikes, and other conditions that mimic food allergy. The most common foods that produce allergic symptoms are milk, eggs, seafood, peanuts, and tree nuts. Although skin testing and in vitro serum immunoglobulin E assays may help in the evaluation of suspected food allergies, they should not be performed unless the clinical history suggests a specific food allergen to which testing can be targeted. Furthermore, these tests do not confirm food allergy. Confirmation requires a positive food challenge or a clear history of an allergic reaction to a food and resolution of symptoms after eliminating that food from the diet. More than 70 percent of children will outgrow milk and egg allergies by early adolescence, whereas peanut allergies usually remain throughout life. The most serious allergic response to food allergy is anaphylaxis. It requires emergency care that should be initiated by the patient or family using an epinephrine autoinjector, which should be carried by anyone with a diagnosed food allergy. These and other recommendations presented in this article are derived from the Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States, published by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Physical Training for Patients with Asthma - Cochrane for Clinicians
Acute Asthma and Other Recurrent Wheezing Disorders in Children - Clinical Evidence Handbook
PPIs, Childhood Asthma, and the Problem of Therapeutic Creep - AFP Journal Club