People who are diagnosed with asthma often end up with multiple prescription medications to help control the disease and prevent attacks. These medications can be very effective if taken as directed.
But researchers at Henry Ford Hospital have shown that in many cases, patients don’t follow through on their medication schedule. Their research shows that as many as one-fourth of all severe asthma attacks could have been prevented if patients had followed the prescription instructions.
Asthma is a chronic lung condition that makes breathing difficult. During an asthma attack, the airways become inflamed and produce excess mucus which prevents air from flowing in and out of the lungs. At the same time, the muscles surrounding the airways can tighten and make airways smaller. A severe asthma attack can make breathing impossible and can be deadly.
Approximately 20 million Americans or 1 out of 15 people have asthma. While there is no cure for the disease, medications are available that can control most asthma symptoms for many people. Medications fall into two broad categories: controller medications which must be taken on a regular schedule to prevent flare-ups and rescue medications which are taken to control symptoms of an asthma attack.
Inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) medications are one type of controller medication for asthma. These drugs are used to prevent or reduce swelling in airways and cut down on mucus production in the lungs. They are different from anabolic steroids used to build muscle.
Inhaled corticosteroids are considered safe when taken as prescribed. ICS medication is considered to be one of the most effective treatments to control asthma symptoms and prevent serious attacks.
Researchers at Henry Ford tracked the use of ICS medications which were intended to be taken on a regular schedule, not as emergency or rescue treatments. They concluded that many patients take medications only when they have symptoms rather than following the prescription instructions even when they are symptom-free.