Asthma: Pathology and Contemporary Treatment

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Their study of treatment outcomes for asthmatic patients in specialized care suggests that contemporary treatments should include more patient education combined with increased use of LABAs (Long-acting beta2-agonists) and leukotriene antagonists to help prevent bronchoconstriction and improve quality of life for patients.

Despite multiple contemporary treatment choices, managing acute severe asthma attacks still present a tremendous health challenge to health care professionals (Barnard, 2005). Contemporary guidelines for treating acute emergency attacks currently include treatment with oxygen and inhaled beta 2 agonists, which can be administered continuously to help preserve life in acute patients (Barnard, 532). Patients discharged after such treatment should also engage in review of current medications and consider "a short course of oral steroids, a written asthma action plan and detailed advice about deterioration that may occur within 48 hours" (Barnard, 533).

Butz et. al, (2005) are among a growing body of contemporary researchers that suggests that self-management and patient education are critical success factors for treating patients with asthma in modern society. Their studies suggested home-based educational programs that focus on accurate symptom identification and demonstration of "asthma medication delivery services" may improve patient quality of life and assist children with asthma and asthma like conditions (Butz, et. al, 190).

Delaronde, Peruccio & Bauer (2005) find that "individualized telephonic case management" from registered nurses specifically trained in contemporary asthma treatment may improve asthma medication use and subsequent quality of life for patients with asthma (361). This research correlates with a growing body of evidence supporting patient education and direct support as practical contemporary treatment practices.

Analysis

The basis for much of contemporary treatment lies in the gold standards or clinical practice guidelines outlined by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's Expert Panel (CDC, 2005). These standards offer patients and health care practitioners specific guidelines for recognizing, diagnosis, treating and providing ongoing care to asthmatic patients. Because asthma is a difficult disease to diagnose, clinicians should utilize multiple diagnostic tools to determine whether airflow obstruction in patients results from asthma or other underlying conditions. Doctors should also acquire a comprehensive medical and family history and attempt to quantify the severity of a person's condition (CDC, 2005).

Other contemporary diagnostic criteria helpful for assessing a patients condition include lung function tests (also referred to as spirometry) (CDC, 2005). Because there is no cure for asthma at this time doctors must work to improve the quality of life for patients presenting with asthma as effectively treat acute attacks. Doctors also work with patients to prevent attacks and recurrent episodes. Not one treatment modality works for all people because every case of asthma is unique. Because of this doctors often use various medications including injections, oral medications, vapors and inhalers. Use of inhalers to expand airflow is currently one of the most common and effective long-term treatment choices for patients with asthma.

Contemporary long lasting medical treatments should include use of corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation in the lungs and airways. Most patients will inhale these medicines or take them orally. Long acting beta2-agonists are also identified as effective long-term treatments for patients with asthma. While inhalers, nebulizers and other medications all serve the asthmatic population, education should also form the foundation for modern treatment practices.

Multiple researchers have concluded that patient education is effective for improving the quality of life in patients with asthma. Education also ensures that patients understand how to use their medications and do use them to prevent acute attacks. Education may be particularly beneficial for children by helping them adopt healthy behaviors early on that can help control their condition.

Conclusions

Asthma is a complex disease involving structural and physiological components. Patients with asthma face a life long and often debilitating condition that under severe circumstances may result in increased morbidity. Fortunately there are many treatments currently available that effectively manage this condition. Contemporary management and treatment of asthma is based on empirical research that suggests multiple forms of medication for preventing and treating acute asthma attacks.

The most common forms of treatment include corticosteroid administration through inhalers or oral forms. There are other equally effective medical treatments however that may work well for patients depending on the severity of their illness. No two patients are alike with respect to the condition thus treatment must be tailored to the individual.

New research suggests that doctors and patients focus on prevention and education to help improve patients quality of life and experience of their disease (West, 1990). Education that starts early, as when patients are children, is likely to be more effective than education that starts years after an individual has attempted to manage their disease using other methods. Adequate evidence suggests that the manner of delivery for education does not impact a patients success rate. Thus information may be distributed in person, in the home or even over the telephone if necessary.

The currently body of literature available suggest that education in the classroom may also be an important avenue for teaching prevention and treatment in the future (West, 1990). It is important that researchers and doctors continue exploring new avenues for treating and preventing this insidious disease.

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