Pharmacological management of mild or moderate persistent asthma
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Patients with mild persistent asthma rarely see their doctor with symptoms of the disease. Partly as a result of this situation, mild asthma is generally undertreated. Findings of several large randomised clinical trials have shown benefits for this population of regular treatment with low doses of inhaled corticosteroids. Additional drugs are rarely needed, and although leukotriene modifiers are effective, they are less so than inhaled corticosteroids. People with moderate persistent asthma are not well controlled on low doses of inhaled corticosteroids. A combination of this drug and long-acting inhaled beta2 agonists provides improved control compared with doubling of the maintenance dose of inhaled corticosteroids. The combination of budesonide and formoterol has been assessed as both maintenance and reliever treatment. This approach further reduces the risk for severe exacerbations. With these strategies, most individuals can achieve good control of their asthma. For patients who do not achieve asthma control despite taking drugs, measurement of the inflammatory response in the airway in induced sputum could provide further information to guide treatment.
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