Asthma Watch

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

Targeting GERD Improves Kids? Asthma

Children with both asthma and gastroesophagealreflux disease (GERD) maysee asthma symptoms improve if GERDis treated first.

Whereas the association betweenasthma and GERD remains unclear,researchers have seen that antirefluxmedicines can sometimes help asthma.

In the current study, the researchersexplored this relationship in 62 childrenwith asthma. The participants, between6 and 11 years old, had esophageal acidtesting. Of the patients, 44 with abnormalresults indicative of GERD receivedantireflux therapy (either medical or surgical),while the remaining 18 childrenserved as a control group and continuedtheir asthma regimen.

After 2 years, the researchers foundthat children getting antireflux therapyhad <1 asthma flare-up per year, comparedwith 3 flare-ups per year amongother children.

The research was recently presentedat the annual meeting of theAmerican College of Allergy, Asthma,and Immunology.

Wheeze withRhinovirus UpsAsthma Risk

Children who wheeze when they haverhinovirus infection&#8212;the most commoncause of colds&#8212;face greater odds ofdeveloping asthma later during childhood.The study, reported in the October1, 2008, issue of the American Journal ofRespiratory and Critical Care Medicine,showed that it is rhinovirus-producedwheezingthat parents should be mostconcerned about.

For the study, the researchers followednearly 300 newborns with one or bothparents who have allergies or asthma.The investigators evaluated them forthe presence of respiratory viruses andthe development of asthma until theyreached age 6.

The findings showed that childrenwho wheezed with rhinovirus during thefirst year of life were nearly 3 timesmore prone to have asthma when theyreached age 6, compared with childrenwho wheezed with respiratory syncytialvirus who did not have increased asthmarisk. The researchers found that childrenwho wheezed with rhinovirus in theirsecond year of life were >6 times aslikely to have asthma, and rhinovirus-associatedwheezing at age 3 showed a>3-fold increased risk.

Barriers Impede Good Asthma Care

Poor access to appropriate care and distrust of physicians are among the issues posingbarriers to good asthma management.

Of the patients hospitalized for the condition, 60% are not sticking with an asthmamanagement plan. Minorities are less apt to visit an asthma specialist, instead receivingasthma care in emergency departments and with inconsistent follow-up.

Whereas factors such as low health literacy and cultural or religious beliefs towardmedicine may be some of the reasons, Alan Luskin, MD, an associate professor ofmedicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said that individuals are notaware that active management can have a positive impact.

Steps to MasterAsthma Control

Pharmacists and physicians can worktogether to ensure patients have goodasthma control. The Mayo Clinic offers 3steps that clinicians can use to counselpatients.

  • Track symptoms. Patients shouldkeep an asthma diary. At each doctorvisit, patients should discuss withtheir doctor the severity of theirsymptoms and any changes sincethe last appointment.
  • Check lung function. Patients shoulduse lung function tests to assesshow well they can breathe.
  • Adjust treatment. Based on patients'symptoms and lung function tests,patients and their physicians canmake any changes to treatment ifneeded.

Kids at Risk forAllergies CanGet Vaccines

A study, published in the November 2008issue of Allergy, found that commonchildhood immunizations do not up therisk of more severe eczema or allergiesin children at greater risk for developingallergies.

For the study, the researchers lookedat the effect of immunization in thefirst year of life in 2184 infants betweenthe ages of 1 and 2 years with activedermatitisand a family history of allergy.The results indicated that 65% ofthe infants showed no signs of havingallergies. In addition, no correlation wasfound between immunization with anyparticular routine childhood vaccine andgreater risk of allergic sensitization ormore severe eczema.

F A S T F A C T: Individuals over the age of 65 are much more likely to die from asthma,compared with other age groups.