Family physicians interested in asthma would find parts of this book valuable, but on the whole, it is not for family physicians. In the preface the editors declare that they hope the book will be useful to those who treat asthma, and for specialists it might well be. Although chapter authors include physicians from Australia, Japan, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, and Canada, most are from the United States.
As an asthma sufferer, you may have wished for a miracle drug that would alleviate your symptoms, yet have no adverse effects. Well, after decades of research, a new class of asthma medications known as “antileukotrienes” have hit the North American market. But what are these new agents? Are they the answer to your prayers?
At 2 a.m., 3-year-old Nancy wakes up crying that she can’t breathe. Her parents rush into her room and discover that she is breathing much faster than normal.
PAST STUDIES have shown that long-term use of oral corticosteroids, taken in pill form, may have adverse effects, including osteoporosis. Little such research has been done on the inhaled form of the drug. THIS STUDY examined the effects of sustained corticosteroid use on the bone mineral density (BMD) of post-menopausal women who were being treated for asthma and other respiratory problems; some took the drug in inhalant form only, while others used both inhaled and oral formulations.
Traditionally, asthma has been treated with oral and inhaled bronchodilators, which help control the symptoms of asthma but do nothing for the inflammation. Now, the focus is on prevention, which involves treating the underlying inflammation as well as the bronchoconstriction, and constantly monitoring breathing efficacy. It is essential that asthmatic patients understand how to manage drug therapy and side effects, monitor breathing efficiency, and deal with environmental factors that contribute to bronchoconstriction (irritants, allergens, exercise, cold air inhalation, and infection).
For most people, breathing is an automatic, thoughtless process. It’s not something we actively consider, unless, of course, we’re involved in a strenuous activity or suffer from a serious lung disorder like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Asthma and hay fever have both been rising dramatically in prevalence in Britain, as well as in other industrialized nations. In Cardiff, Wales, where the original research was conducted, 3.2% of primary school children reported hay fever in 1964; the figure rose to 12.7% by 1994.
Spending more time indoors, wall-to-wall carpeting, obesity, higher-density housing – even altered breathing patterns – may all be factors in the rising worldwide asthma rates, according to David Lang, M. D., a Philadelphia asthma specialist.
There is considerable speculation about the reasons for the dramatically increased incidence and prevalence of childhood asthma in the UK – and in many other countries – over the past 20 years. Because seasonal fluctuations seem to have special influence, environmental factors are likely suspects.
Ordinarily it should not take three people to review a book of 350 small pages with large print. The fact that this is so suggests that there must be something very special about either the subject or the book. In this particular case, it is both.