Immunotherapy works well for allergic asthma

Allergic asthma affects over 50% of US asthma sufferers and is responsible for 4,000 deaths and over two million emergency hospital visits each year in the USA. Although inhaled steroid remains the main treatment for allergic asthma, a recent Cochrane review looked at the efficacy of immunotherapy for allergic asthma.

The meta-analysis covered 88 studies (13 published since 2001) and about 3,800 participants. All studies were randomized controlled trials; most focus on house mite or pollen allergies, while a few looked at animal dander, mold, latex or a combination of allergens.

Around 30% of asthma patients experienced improved breathing after receiving immunotherapy injections specific irritants.  Around 20% of patients receiving the  therapy did experience some systemic reactions but so did more than 8% of patients receiving placebo. Fatalities remain extremely rare at one death per 2.5 million injections.

Allergists are enthusiastic about immunotherapy for allergic asthma because not only is it effective in the short term but it causes long-lasting, if not permanent, improvement. Moreover, it treats both the nasal and the chest symptoms of allergic asthma by  removing the need for patents to spray inhaled steroids into their noses which is generally an unpopular treatment with patients.

However, immunotherapy is risky for patients with poorly controlled asthma and, according to Dr Harold Nelson of National Jewish Health, a Denver hospital specializing in respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders and an international authority on immunotherapy, people with treatment-resistant asthma should not be candidates for the treatment.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 8.

Courtesy of Medical News Today


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First Pblished in August 2010

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