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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS - 23/2/09

Inflammation is a clue to ideal asthma therapy

Monday February 23rd, 2009

Patients with asthma benefit from careful monitoring of their airway inflammation, experts say.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system. The amount of inflammation is directly linked to symptom severity, according to Dr Isabelle Tillie-Leblond and colleagues at the Hospital Albert Calmette in Lille, France.

They looked at previous research on the link between inflammation and asthma symptoms, and found that asthmatics have an increased number of immune system cells called "polynuclear eosinophils", which are found in inflamed bodily tissue.

When patients are given anti-inflammatory treatment, there tends to be a reduction in these cells, they found.

In the journal Asthma, they write: "There is a relationship between the perception of symptoms and inflammation [caused by these cells]. Inhaled corticoid therapy and the use of bronchodilators improves this perception."

The experts suggest that treatment based on evaluation of inflammation might be more effective at controlling asthma attacks than the usual symptom-based treatment. This could cut the use of inhaled asthma sprays in both children and adults, they believe.

Preventing an asthma attack is very important, they explain, because of its potentially serious nature and the cost of hospitalisation and days taken off school or work. The experts also point out that the best approach to treatment for each patient should be based on their symptoms as well as their own perception of these symptoms.

The main symptoms of an asthma attack include trouble breathing, or "respiratory discomfort", cough, wheezing, chest tightness, and symptoms triggered specifically by exercise.

Tillie-Leblond, I. et al. Relation between inflammation and symptoms in asthma. Allergy, published online February 7, 2009.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Europe

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