Bronchial asthma is characterized by chronic airway inflammation, which manifests clinically as variable airway narrowing (wheezes and dyspnea) and cough. Long-standing asthma may induce airway remodeling and become intractable. The prevalence of asthma has increased; however, the number of patients who die from it has decreased (1.3 per 100,000 patients in 2018). The goal of asthma treatment is to control symptoms and prevent future risks. A good partnership between physicians and patients is indispensable for effective treatment. Long-term management with therapeutic agents and the elimination of the triggers and risk factors of asthma are fundamental to its treatment. Asthma is managed by four steps of pharmacotherapy, ranging from mild to intensive treatments, depending on the severity of disease; each step includes an appropriate daily dose of an inhaled corticosteroid, which may vary from low to high. Long-acting β2-agonists, leukotriene receptor antagonists, sustained-release theophylline, and long-acting muscarinic antagonists are recommended as add-on drugs, while anti-immunoglobulin E antibodies and other biologics, and oral steroids are reserved for very severe and persistent asthma related to allergic reactions. Bronchial thermoplasty has recently been developed for severe, persistent asthma, but its long-term efficacy is not known. Inhaled β2-agonists, aminophylline, corticosteroids, adrenaline, oxygen therapy, and other approaches are used as needed during acute exacerbations, by selecting treatment steps for asthma based on the severity of the exacerbations. Allergic rhinitis, eosinophilic chronic rhinosinusitis, eosinophilic otitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, and pregnancy are also important conditions to be considered in asthma therapy.
Keywords: Definition of asthma; Diagnosis of asthma; Epidemiology of asthma; Long-term management of asthma; Management of asthma exacerbation.
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