Current approaches to the diagnosis and management of asthma are based on guideline recommendations, which have provided a framework for the efforts. Asthma, however, is emerging as a heterogeneous disease, and these features need to be considered in both the diagnosis and management of this disease in individual patients. These diverse or phenotypic features add complexity to the diagnosis of asthma, as well as attempts to achieve control with treatment. Although the diagnosis of asthma is often based on clinical information, it is important to pursue objective criteria as well, including an evaluation for reversibility of airflow obstruction and bronchial hyperresponsiveness, an area with new diagnostic approaches. Furthermore, there exist a number of treatment gaps (ie, exacerbations, step-down care, use of antibiotics, and severe disease) in which new direction is needed to improve care. A major morbidity in asthmatic patients occurs with exacerbations and in patients with severe disease. Novel approaches to treatment for these conditions will be an important advance to reduce the morbidity associated with asthma.
Copyright © 2011 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.