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A New Treatment for Severe Asthma

About The Author

Jonathan S. Kurman, MD, MBA

Director of interventional Pulmonology

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network

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According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 26 million Americans have asthma. Although there isn’t a cure, newer treatments are offering hope for better management of the condition.  

Asthma is inflammation or narrowing of the airways in the lungs leading to wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. Many things may trigger an asthma attack including pollen, mold, animal dander, dust mites, cleaning products, perfume, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and even things such as exercise or a respiratory infection. There also tends to be a seasonal factor – asthma attacks tend to be more frequent during the summer months when people spend more time outside and are exposed to more allergens. 

The condition ranges from mild to severe. Some people have a mild form that can be well controlled with the use of an inhaler. But others have a more severe form of the condition that interferes with daily activities. They may also require frequent visits to urgent care or the emergency room to help manage their breathing.  

Treatment depends on the severity of a patient’s asthma. A short-acting bronchodilator inhaler is usually the first line of treatment. If this isn’t effective, a corticosteroid inhaler may also be used. Most patients start with one inhaler at the lowest dose. If more treatment is needed, higher doses and additional inhalers are added. 

Bronchial thermoplasty is a newer treatment option for patients with severe, persistent asthma. This minimally invasive, outpatient procedure is completed through a course of three procedures, spaced at three-week intervals. During the procedure, a surgeon uses a scope to deliver radiofrequency energy and shrink inflammation in the airways. One study showed that almost 80 percent of patients who were treated with bronchial thermoplasty showed significant improvement and found their asthma is better controlled.  

The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network has significant experience treating asthma with the latest treatments available, including bronchial thermoplasty. We also have a comprehensive network of providers including pulmonologists, primary care providers and pharmacists who work together to help patients manage their asthma, so they improve their health and lead a life without symptoms.

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