Getting the basics right resolves most cases of uncontrolled and problematic asthma

Acta Paediatr. 2015 Sep;104(9):916-21. doi: 10.1111/apa.13059. Epub 2015 Jun 30.


Aim: The prevalence of true therapy-resistant asthma among children whose asthma remains uncontrolled, despite daily controller therapy, is unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the underlying causes in children with uncontrolled asthma.

Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of 142 children aged from five to 17 years over a five-year period. The patients had uncontrolled asthma and were referred by general practitioners to a hospital-based paediatric asthma clinic.

Results: An underlying cause for uncontrolled asthma was found in 138 children (97.2%). The causes were poor adherence (n = 53, 37.3%), ongoing exposure to environmental triggers (n = 40, 28.2%), comorbidities (n = 28, 19.7%), incorrect inhaler technique (n = 11, 7.7%) and incorrect diagnosis (n = 6, 4.2%). After properly addressing these basics in asthma management, the asthma was well controlled in all 138 patients and lung function was normal. Only four children (2.8%) fulfilled the criteria for true therapy-resistant asthma.

Conclusion: A remedial cause in the basics of asthma management could be found in 97% of children with uncontrolled asthma referred to a hospital-based asthma clinic. True therapy-resistant asthma was found to be very rare in children.

Keywords: Allergic rhinitis; Dysfunctional breathing; Inhalation technique; Paediatric asthma; Uncontrolled asthma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Allergens / adverse effects
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Failure


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents