A team from the University of Manchester under Dr David Denning studied 58 patients with severe asthma who were sensitised to at least one of seven different common fungi. For 32 weeks the participants received either a twice daily treatment with an antifungal drug called itraconazole or a dummy medication. Eleven patients taking the antifungal drug withdrew from the study early because they suffered side effects such as nausea, breathlessness and muscle weakness.
However, at the end of the study period, 18 of the 29 patients (60%) assigned to active treatment with the antifungal drug reported significant improvements in their quality of life and modest reductions in symptoms such as a runny nose and modest improvements in morning lung function. No such improvements were experienced by patients assigned to take the dummy medication.
Assessments conducted four months after stopping treatment with the antifungal drug also showed that the patients’ quality of life and symptoms had returned to pre-treatment levels, indicating the importance of continuing treatment.
This study indicates, commented Dr Denning, ‘that oral antifungal therapy is worth trying in difficult-to-treat patients with fungal sensitivity. Clearly itraconazole will not suit everyone and is not always helpful, but when it is, the effect is
First Published May 2009
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