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Common Asthma Treatment Ineffective

Contrary to what doctors and patients have long believed, taking heartburn medicine does not help reduce coughing, wheezing and breathlessness among people who have asthma, according to new research out today
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More than 22 million Americans have asthma, and many also have acid reflux, which is a condition that occurs when semi-digested food or fluid rises from the stomach into the esophagus. For decades, it's been thought acid reflux, even if it doesn't cause any symptoms, could worsen many of the symptoms of asthma by making the airways narrow. As a result, many asthmatics takes drugs known as proton pump inhibitors, which are used to treat heartburn, to try to reduce their asthma symptoms.

In the new study, which is the most comprehensive attempt to evaluate the treatment, Robert Wise of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and colleagues studied 402 patients at 19 centers around the country who had poorly controlled asthma despite taking moderate or higher doses of inhaled corticosteroids, the standard treatment for asthma. None of the patients actually had any acid reflux symptoms.

The patients were randomly assigned to take 40 milligrams of the proton pump inhibitor sold as Nexium twice a day or a placebo for six months while continuing their asthma medication. They kept careful track of their asthma symptoms, had their lung function tested and completed questionnaires designed to assess their quality of life.

Overall, the number and severity of asthma symptoms and the quality of life did not differ between those taking Nexium and those taking the placebo, researchers reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Based on the findings, the researchers recommend people with asthma only take heartburn medication if their acid reflux is causing symptoms.

They cautioned, however, that the drugs may still help children with asthma, and are doing another study to examine that question.

By Rob Stein  |  April 9, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Asthma , Family Health , General Health  
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Comments

I dont think this study really addressed it. The patients the reflux meds may help are those that have was is commonly refered to as EE (eosinophillic esophagitis). EE is a constriction of the esophagus that is simnilar to the longs during an astham attack.

A couple of times over the last few years I have gotten food stuck in my esophagus due to constriction.

Some doctors may believe there is some connection between the lungs and the esophagus so they are thinking treating one may help the other.

Another factor that could come to play in this study are patients who have extremely high IgE levels in the thousands. Normal range is 0-150.

Posted by: djp98374 | April 9, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

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