Allergists are specialists trained to diagnose and treat asthma and they now have a new tool for helping patients with difficult to control symptoms.
Asthma symptoms affect an estimated 26 million Americans, a total of 20 million adults and 6 million children. It is known as one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses, accounting for 13.8 million missed school days a year, and more than 14 million lost workdays for adults.
For years we have managed and controlled asthma with long-term control medicines to avoid asthma attacks, and quick-relief, or rescue, medicines to treat symptoms once they start. These treatments have typically worked well for most patients with mild to moderate asthma. However, for approximately 10% of people with this condition, these medicines were often not enough to control symptoms.
Recently, a new group of prescription drugs has been introduced to treat difficult to control asthma called biologics. Biologics target the patient’s immune system to prevent an attack, rather than treating the symptoms. There are several new biologic treatments now available to treat asthma; some are used for patients with allergic asthma and the other helps patients with eosinophilic asthma.
Many people with asthma also have allergies. When allergens such as pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust trigger asthma symptoms, the diagnosis is allergic asthma. When you have an allergy, your immune system produces IgE, a special type of protein that triggers the allergic reaction that results in the inflammation causing symptoms of asthma. Biologic therapies target pathways that link inflammation to asthma.
Eosinophilic asthma is a type of severe asthma that can cause swelling in the airways of your lungs, making it hard to breathe. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell, which is generally associated with allergic-type inflammation. The use of biologic therapy is sometimes referred to as “precision medicine” because it targets different molecules in the body that contribute to asthma.
Physicians also can use biologics for the treatment of certain skin conditions such as Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria (CIU), or chronic hives, and moderate to severe atopic dermatitis or eczema.
Consult the experts at Atlanta Allergy & Asthma to see if you are a candidate for one of these new biologic therapies for persistent asthma or for certain skin conditions.