Familiarizing yourself with current pediatric asthma guidelines can help you get the most up-to-date care.
World Asthma Day was established by the Global Initiative for Asthma to raise awareness of the disease that affects millions of people worldwide. But asthma health care professionals know it as the day that the organization releases its updated pediatric asthma treatment guidelines each year.
Dr. Leonard B. Bacharier, a pediatrician and allergy and immunology specialist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, is a member of the Global Initiative for Asthma’s Science Committee. They evaluate all the research that’s been published throughout the year and use it to revise the pediatric asthma treatment guidelines.
“The guidelines help standardize asthma care so that patients are most likely to receive the right medicines in the right situations,” Bacharier said. “We know physicians are busy — that it’s impossible for an individual to read all of the research out there. The guidelines provide them with a framework upon which to base their asthma care.”
Advances in asthma care
Asthma research may not always get the media attention other diseases do, but there has been a lot of progress in asthma care in the past 25 years. Thus, the pediatric asthma guidelines really do change year to year.
“In 2019, we made the very bold step based largely on data in teenagers and adults that nearly every patient with asthma should be receiving an inhaled corticosteroid in one form or another, whether every day or only when they have symptoms.”
“In 2019, we made the very bold step based largely on data in teenagers and adults that nearly every patient with asthma should be receiving an inhaled corticosteroid in one form or another, whether every day or only when they have symptoms,” Bacharier said. “That effectively eliminated the concept of the previous albuterol-only approach in adolescents and adults. That was a big change in the treatment of mild asthma, and we’re still getting the word out about that.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Bacharier said, the guidelines also curb overtreatment, particularly when new drugs hit the market.
“There’s been an awful lot of attention paid to injectable biologics — and indeed they are transformative in asthma care — but they’re not for everybody,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of evidence that they might be used inappropriately in patients who just don’t have severe enough disease, and they’re very expensive. So we want to be conscious to use them in the patients who are most likely to benefit the greatest from them.”
Advice for patients
While Bacharier says it’s not necessary for patients to study the Global Initiative for Asthma pediatric asthma guidelines — which at 200-plus pages, read more like a medical textbook than anything — it’s always a good idea to research your disease and treatment options. The organization publishes a patient guide, which is also kept up to date to reflect current guidelines.
Make an appointment with your physician, especially if you:
- Haven’t been to the doctor to discuss your asthma symptoms in a year or more.
- You have symptoms three times a week or more.
- Your symptoms have worsened.
- You have not been prescribed a preventive “controller” medicine containing an inhaled corticosteroid.