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Leo G.,V Buzzi Childrens Hospital | Incorvaia C.,Allergy and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Minerva Pediatrica | Year: 2010

Asthma in children is characterized by recurring symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, and cough, by airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and by underlying inflammation. The presence of allergic sensitization, and allergic rhinitis in particular, is strongly associated with asthma. The goal of management of asthma is to achieve and maintain control of the clinical manifestations of the disease. This can be obtained by drug treatment, education of patients and care givers, and, in allergic asthma, by allergen avoidance and specific immunotherapy. The drugs used in asthma can be classified as controllers - such as inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and leukotriene receptor antagonists - or relievers (bronchodilators to be used during acute exacerbations of asthma). ICS are the most effective anti-inflammatory controllers for the management of persistent asthma in children of all ages, but there is no consensus about the optimal starting dose. Dose-response studies reported marked and rapid improvement in clinical symptoms and lung function at low doses of ICS, and mild asthma is well controlled by such doses in most children, this ensuring good safety. If there is no improvement with the initial low dose of ICS, an increased ICS dose or additional therapy with leukotriene receptor antagonists or long-acting inhaled β2-agonists should be considered. When asthma is caused by allergy to aeroallergens, specific immunotherapy must be taken into account, in its two forms of subcutaneous or sublingual immunotherapy. The former has complete evidence of efficacy, but the sublingual route is safer and more easily accepted by children.

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