Recovery from an asthma exacerbation may take days or weeks even after the introduction of appropriate exacerbation therapy. However airway responsiveness and sputum eosinophils can be reduced within 6 hours by a single dose of inhaled corticosteroids.
Aim: To determine if a single dose of 3200 microg of budesonide increases the rate of recovery from an asthma exacerbation.
Methods: Nineteen asthmatic subjects with an asthma exacerbation following withdrawal of inhaled corticosteroids were randomised to receive either usual care (doubling their dose of inhaled corticosteroids) plus placebo or usual care plus a single dose of 3200 microg of budesonide in a double-blind manner. Subjects monitored peak flow (PEF), symptoms, and beta agonist use daily for four weeks. The lowest PEF reading for each week was calculated as a percentage of the best peak flow value achieved in the recent past (PEF lowest % best).
Results: In the first week following exacerbation, PEF (lowest % best) was significantly greater in the budesonide group than in the placebo group (87.4 +/- 4.7 vs. 76.7 +/- 5.3; p = 0.029). However in the fourth week following exacerbation PEF was not significantly different (p = 0.728). The proportion of subjects who had a symptom free day during the first week was significantly higher in the budesonide group (p = 0.0012).
Conclusion: A single high dose of inhaled corticosteroids added to usual exacerbation treatment might increase the rate of recovery from a mild exacerbation of asthma.