Asthma Overview (cont.)

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What is an asthma action plan?

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Patient education is a critical component in the successful management of asthma. An asthma action plan provides an individual with specific directions for daily management of their asthma and for adjusting medications in response to increasing symptoms or decreasing lung function, as usually measured by a peak flow meter.

What is the prognosis for asthma?

The prognosis for asthma is generally favorable. Children experience complete remission more often than adults. Although adults with asthma experience a greater rate of loss in their lung function as compared to age-controlled counterparts, this decline is usually not as severe as seen in other conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or emphysema. Asthma in the absence of other comorbidities does not appear to shorten life expectancy. Risk factors for poor prognosis from asthma include:

  • History of hospitalizations, especially ICU admissions or intubation
  • Frequent reliance on systemic steroids
  • Significant medical comorbidities

Can asthma be prevented?

With the increasing prevalence of asthma, numerous studies have looked for risk factors and ways to potentially prevent asthma. It has been shown that individuals living on farms are protected against wheezing, asthma, and even environmental allergies. The role of air pollution has been questioned in both the increased incidence of asthma and in regards to asthma exacerbations.

Climate change is also being studied as a factor in the increased incidence of asthma. Maternal smoking during pregnancy is a risk factor for asthma and poor outcomes. Tobacco smoke is also a significant risk factor for the development and progression of asthma. The development of asthma is ultimately a complex process influenced by many environmental and genetic factors, and currently there is no proven way to decrease an individual's risk of developing asthma.

REFERENCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Vital signs: asthma prevalence, disease characteristics, and self-management education: United States, 2001--2009." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60.17 (2011): 547-552.

National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. "Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma." 2007.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2014

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