Monitoring airway inflammation is better than conventional treatment for managing asthma attacks. Several weeks before an asthma attack, levels of immune cells known eosinophils increase in the airways. Researchers at Glenfield Hospital,UK, have been looking at how targeting this build up of eosinophils in sputum compares with conventional treatment for reducing an asthma attack.
The conventional treatment consists of treating the symptoms. A group of 70 patients were assigned either to eosinophil management or symptom treatment. The eosinophil count was 61 per cent lower over 12 months among patients who were assigned to sputum management by inhaled or oral steroids.
This group had fewer severe asthma attacks, and fewer hospitalisations than those managed in the traditional way. This suggests that treating the underlying inflammation may be a better way of keeping asthma under control.