Asthma Guidelines - Breathe Easier This Spring

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Allergy and asthma specialists from around the country will gather this week to begin implementing The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's (NAEPP) Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. These guidelines are intended to improve care for the millions of Americans that suffer from this chronic condition. Information in the guidelines reported that allergies have emerged as one of the most important factors in the development, persistence and potential severity of asthma and that allergy testing is necessary to educate patients about allergen avoidance and symptom control.

"The role of allergy testing in asthma management is important information for patients, particularly because many asthmatics are not aware that a simple blood test can be conducted to identify what is triggering an asthma attack," said Dean Mitchell, MD, leading allergist and author of Dr. Dean Mitchell's Allergy and Asthma Solution. "Allergy diagnostic testing using a specific IgE blood test is a safe and accurate method to identify triggers early on and effectively manage patients."

The guidelines were developed by an expert panel commissioned by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program and coordinated by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health to ensure that the asthma guidelines reflect the latest scientific advances in this area. The guidelines were first published in 1991 and revised in 1997 and 2002. These latest parameters highlight the importance of keeping asthma under control through four critical components of asthma care, including: assessment and monitoring, patient education, control of environmental factors contributing to asthma severity, and pharmacologic therapy.

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"As the presence of allergens increases this spring allergy season, it will be critical for patients to understand what their allergic triggers are and how to avoid those allergens," said Dr. Mitchell. "By accurately diagnosing allergies, healthcare providers can recommend avoidance strategies, so that patients can minimize their exposure to triggers, which collectively are responsible for pushing them over their allergic threshold and intensifying asthma symptoms."

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, approximately 23 million Americans have asthma and more than seven million of these are children, making it one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. While the number of asthma-related deaths has declined in recent years, asthma remains the cause for nearly two million emergency room visits annually, resulting in a significant economic burden on our healthcare system.

"Knowledge gained from allergy testing allows asthma patients to make necessary adjustments to their environment or diet to decrease their risk for asthma attacks and subsequent hospitalizations," said Dr. Mitchell.

ImmunoCAP was the first allergy test to be cleared by the FDA as a truly quantitative test for pinpointing allergens and allergy blood testing is recognized by the National Institutes of Health for the management of patients with asthma. The ImmunoCAP technology works by measuring IgE antibodies to food, indoor and outdoor allergens in a small sample of blood. Specific IgE is produced as a result of sensitization to an allergen and increases with exposure to that substance.

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