Any physician will tell you that following their recommended plan of medical action can help cure or alleviate symptoms, disorders, or conditions, and this is especially true with asthma. Unfortunately, too many asthma sufferers don’t follow their treatment plans and needlessly experience negative consequences.
Dr. Stanley Fineman, a board-certified allergist withAtlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic and past-president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), co-authored a paper that was published in the January, 2014 issue of the medical journal, “Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,” that concluded in order for treatment to be effective, asthma sufferers need to ask questions, understand treatment recommendations, and feel as if they have open communication with their allergist.
“When patients do not understand their condition or treatment plan, they may not follow life-saving guidelines, putting them at increased risk for asthma attacks,” said Dr. Fineman. “Changes need to be made by allergists and patients to ensure a treatment plan is in place that will be followed. Proper treatment and adherence to the plan not only improves quality of life, but may save lives.”
Fineman noted in the paper that only eight to 13 percent of asthma sufferers continue to refill inhaled corticosteroid prescriptions after one year. Taken early and as directed, these inhalers can improve asthma control, normalize lung function and even prevent irreversible injury to airways.
Asthma is responsible for 4,000 deaths annually, according to ACAAI. The number of Americans with asthma grows every year, and it currently affects 26 million Americans. The greatest rise in asthma rates is among African American children, which doubled from 2001 to 2009.
Although symptoms can become better with time, asthma is a chronic illness. Unless directed by a physician, asthma patients should never change or discontinue preventive medications, and should always keep an adequate supply available.
“Asthma is a serious disease, and when patients don’t follow treatment recommendations, the result can be dangerous,” said Dr. Fineman.“Sufferers need to be sure they regularly take medication and that all of their concerns are being addressed.”