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Asthma guidelines

The asthma guidelines in the UK were revised in January 2012 and are based upon research developed by asthma experts at the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network and the British Thoracic Society. If you have asthma you will be aware that this is a long-term condition, needing careful management in partnership with your doctor or asthma nurse and in practising environmental allergen control.

The UK asthma guidelines cover:
- Drug treatment for asthma
- Non-drug treatment, including alternative medicine approaches
- Inhalers
- Self-management and patient education
- How care should be organised and delivered
- Pregnancy & Allergy Information
- Occupational asthma
- Management of asthma attacks

There is some interesting information on non-pharmacological management that may inspire some 'self-help' tips for people with asthma.

This is what the guidelines have to say on asthma prevention (primary prevention):

  • Breastfeeding is to be encouraged, because it may have a potential protective effect against childhood asthma.
  • There is limited evidence that fish oil, selenium and vitamin E in pregnancy may prevent asthma in the baby, but this is insufficient to allow any specific recommendations on supplementation.
  • There is a proven link between maternal smoking and the risk of infant wheezing. Therefore, parents (and parents-to-be) should be advised not to smoke.

On secondary prevention (managing existing asthma to avoid attacks), here's what the guidelines have to say:

  • Air pollution has been shown to aggravate asthma and a lot of research has been done in this area, particularly into the impact of indoor air pollution. Depending on where pollution is coming from, the most effective way to control indoor air pollution is the use of an effective air purifier.
  • Measures to reduce house dust mite do have an effect and the guidelines do believe that a multi-pronged approach to mite reduction is worthwhile.
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke adversely affects lung function and long-term control of asthma. So people with asthma who smoke should be encouraged to stop.

Allergen-specific allergy shots can be helpful in the management of allergic asthma. The guidelines, therefore, say that immunotherapy can be considered in people with asthma where it is hard to avoid an allergen. But the potential for severe allergic reactions to the therapy must be considered and discussed with the patient.

It is also worth keeping an eye on developments at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), whose mission is to make sure healthcare professionals in the NHS provide the best quality of care while keeping an eye on value for money. In February 2013, NICE is to issue a Quality Standard on asthma. 

Asthma Guidelines | Asthma Guidelines Explained Articles

asthma research From allergen and air pollution studies, to a high tech cure, there is plenty going on in the world of asthma research this month.

Children living in homes where mould is present have an increased risk of allergies and asthma, say researchers at the German Research Center for Environmental Health writing in the European Respiratory Journal. We’ve already reported that mould has an adverse impact on lung function, but the situation with asthma is particularly interesting. Previous studies have suggested that invisible components of mould in house dust could actually reduce the risk of asthma.
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world asthma day If you have asthma then Tuesday 3rd May is your special day. World Asthma Day has been held on the second Tuesday in May every year since 1998. It is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and works to improve quality of life for people with asthma around the world. GINA brings together healthcare professionals and public health experts in campaigns to reduce the global prevalence, morbidity and mortality of asthma.
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Inhalers play a leading role in helping to treat asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Indeed, an inhaler can even be lifesaving! But to do their job of delivering medication, it is important that you use your asthma inhaler correctly. So it is concerning to read a study from the University of Chicago that shows how the majority of patients do not use their asthma inhaler as intended.
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swine flu and asthma Last year there was talk of swine flu being a scam put out by the pharma companies to get governments to buy up millions of shots of HINI vaccine. Why did 'only' 457 people die of the disease, when 65,000 fatalities had been predicted? Why do we have 20 million unused shots of HINI vaccine? Actually, I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories and I know, from talking to infectious diseases experts, how unpredictable viral illnesses, including a flu such as the swine flu, can be. Wouldn't you rather the vaccine was there - even if it's not needed, in the end - than have to worry about shortages?
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Manage your Asthma with an iPhone You probably know the value of using a peak flow meter to help monitor your asthma. The meter measures how hard you can breathe out and provides useful feedback on whether your meds are working for you or whether you need to do anything different. To get the most out of a peak flow meter, you really need to store the data to get a pattern of what's happening over a period of weeks and months. That's useful material to take to your regular asthma management check up. To log the readings you can use a simple diary format, or perhaps a spreadsheet - which can sometimes seem like a bit of a chore.
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