JUN 16, 2022 8:39 AM PDT

Overuse of Asthma Inhalers Leads to More Severe Asthma and Hospitalization

WRITTEN BY: Zoe Michaud

Asthma is a chronic lung condition characterized by inflammation and narrowness in the airways that carry air in and out of the lungs. About 1 in 13 people in the United States are affected by asthma. Though there is no cure for asthma, it is typically managed by avoiding triggers and using medications.

Asthma inhalers (inhaled corticosteroids) are the most effective and commonly used medication to control asthma. They work by reducing swelling and tightening in the airways. Though these medications are necessary and lifesaving for many asthma patients, overuse of asthma inhalers can have negative effects.

Short-Acting Beta-Agonists (SABAs) are a common type of inhaler, often referred to as Albuterol inhalers. Relying on SABA for relief instead of using corticosteroids to prevent symptoms is linked to poor asthma control and an increased risk of severe asthma attacks and hospital admissions.

Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London recently published a study showing that more than a quarter of asthma patients in their cohort of over 700,000 asthma patients were over-using inhalers. Overuse was defined as six or more inhaler prescriptions per year.

Paul Pfeffer, one of the co-authors on the paper, noted that "there is an ongoing major burden of inappropriate and dangerous rescue inhaler overuse in asthma, and our paper highlights the complexity of the problem with multiple reasons patients are over-prescribed SABA inhalers. The findings are a call for more detailed research into interventions to reduce inappropriate SABA overuse in different patient groups."

Overall, the paper highlights the need for standardization in prescriptions of these life-saving medications. There was a high level of variability between prescribers that were looked at in this study, with some overprescribing to 6% of their asthma patients and some overprescribing to as many as 60%.

Lead author Anna De Simoni added that “working with patients to improve regular use of preventative inhalers should be central to reducing asthma-related hospital admissions. There is still significant room for improvement.”

Sources: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Mayo Clinic, Journal of Clinical Medicine, British Journal of General Practice

About the Author
Biology
Zoe (she/her) is a science writer and a scientist working in genomics. She received her B.S. from the University of Connecticut with a focus in Evolutionary Biology. At Labroots, she focuses on writing scientific content related to clinical research and diagnostics.
You May Also Like
JUN 16, 2022
Neuroscience
Caffeine Can Cause Long-Term Changes in the Brain
JUN 16, 2022
Caffeine Can Cause Long-Term Changes in the Brain
It's estimated that as many as 80% of all people partake in the world's most common psychoactive substance, caffeine. Pe ...
JUN 17, 2022
Immunology
Stress Accelerates Immune System Aging
JUN 17, 2022
Stress Accelerates Immune System Aging
Stress, from problems that people experience every day like tension and strain at work to more traumatic events like the ...
JUN 21, 2022
Cancer
Advanced Lung Cancer Diagnosis Linked to Socioeconomic Status
JUN 21, 2022
Advanced Lung Cancer Diagnosis Linked to Socioeconomic Status
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both males and females, and an estimated 120,000 peop ...
JUN 25, 2022
Health & Medicine
Excess Sitting Is Bad for Your Health but Exercise Can Help with That
JUN 25, 2022
Excess Sitting Is Bad for Your Health but Exercise Can Help with That
Winston Churchill said, "Never stand up when you can sit down." Nowadays, sitting down is an unavoidable part ...
JUL 01, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Could Temperature Fight Obesity? Study in Mice Suggests Cold Exposure Could
JUL 01, 2022
Could Temperature Fight Obesity? Study in Mice Suggests Cold Exposure Could
Mammals, including humans, have at least two different types of fat tissue. White fat is the tissue where energy is prim ...
JUL 04, 2022
Coronavirus
Some Neurodegenerative Diseases are More Likely After COVID-19
JUL 04, 2022
Some Neurodegenerative Diseases are More Likely After COVID-19
European researchers analyzed the health records of about half the entire population of Denmark, which included 919,731 ...
Loading Comments...