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ASK THE DOC

Asthma: no permanent cure

"Asthma needs to be treated regularly to control it," says the respiratory physician on our panel in response to readers' queries.


Harikesava Rao:

I am suffering from asthma for the last three years. I was initially given Cetrizen and Salbutamol tablets but there was no improvement. Another doctor prescribed ebast and salbutamol inhaler. At present I am taking the medicines he suggested and I have found some relief. But is there some way I can overcome this problem completely?

Dr. Raj B. Singh, Senior Consultant Respiratory Physician, Apollo Hospital, Chennai, replies:

The best way to treat asthma is to control it as completely as possible thus allowing your lungs to become as normal as possible. The safest and most effective way of achieving this today is to use a combination of an inhaled steroid and an inhaled bronchodilator, which are now available in a single device. "Some relief" therefore does not mean that your asthma is adequately treated. Periodic assessment of your peak flow rate and, if possible, your lung function (spirometry) would be advisable to find out if your asthma is indeed under control. At present we do not have a "course of medication" that can permanently alter the nature of the asthmatic lung and prevent symptoms permanently.

Varun Goel

I am 21-year-old asthmatic patient. My doc had a PFT done for me a year back. Result: Mild asthma (allergic bronchitis). I used Seriflo 250 for 3 months, then was asked to use Esiflo 250. But I had more relief earlier with Seriflo. Can I go back to using that?

Answer: Seroflo and Esiflo have the same ingredient medication and should be interchangeable. However if you prefer one to the other, you may certainly use it. You may consider repeating your PFT to see if your asthma is adequately controlled with the present medication.

Name withheld:

I am 21years. I have been suffering from wheezing for last 10-13 years (from the time I came to Coimbatore). I was told the reason for my problem was allergy. I was prescribed Asthalin inhaler at the time of attack; I am using it for more than a decade. I am not taking any other kind of treatment. But I feel sick often after I had typhoid three years earlier before. Is using an inhaler for such a long time harmful? Is there any other way of controlling this illness?

Answer: Inhalers are the safest way of treating asthma (which is almost certainly what you have). But inhaled salbutamol (Asthalin) alone, though may provide temporary relief, will not clear the inflammation resulting from asthma. Persistent inflammation can result in permanent lung dysfunction. Checking your PFT and starting an inhaled steroid will be advisable.

Babu Vinayak:

I am 56 and suffer from allergic asthma since 1975. During a four-year stint in Dubai I never had an attack, but the day I landed in Kerala I had to go for a pill of Bronkoplus, which I continued till 1999, when I had a severe attack coupled with viral fever. Doctor advised Asthalin + Rudecort 200 rotocaps morning and evening for one month and thereafter Ceroflo100, which I am still continuing. During summer days I tried to do away with this medicine with almost 50 per cent sucess rate. I could learn in this time that in addition to house dust as well as certain pollens, humidity [+70] is a major allergent, rainy season being the most difficult period. Is it safe to continue with CEROFLO in varying strengths depending on the severity of the attack? Is there any medicine to counter the humidity related problem?

Answer: Asthma does tend to be worse when humidity is high and this may be the reason that it got worse on returning to Kerala. Seroflo 100 rotacaps can be safely continued for many years. Make sure you confirm that the dose is adequate by checking peak flow rates and spirometry and not merely rely on your symptoms (or absence of them) to assess asthma control. Air conditioning is often helpful to reduce humidity but wheeze may occur on leaving the room and entering more the humid environment outside. Adjusting the dose of Seroflo, as you have been doing, according to the severity of asthma would be a better option.

M. Rajalakshmi:

I am asthmatic, use the inhaler off and on, have also spondilitis. My BP is under control with the medicines prescribed by my doctor. The asthma gives lot of trouble in spite of inhaler use. Is there any permanent cure for this? I am aged 66 and do domestic work and online trading.

Answer: I am sure your BP is under control because you are taking your BP medication regularly and not "off and on". Asthma also needs to be treated regularly for controlling it adequately. Adequacy of control needs to be assessed periodically with lung function tests. At present there is no "permanent cure" for either asthma or high BP.

Readers can send in their medical queries to

Ask The Doc, Magazine, The Hindu,
859-860, Anna Salai,
Chennai - 600 002.
Or e-mail
askthedoc@thehindu.co.in

Please indicate whether your name can be published or not.

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