The Best Tools and Treatments for Severe Asthma

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , /

(upbeat electronic music)
– Are you okay? – What’s wrong? – I feel tightness in my chest
and I can’t breathe very well. (coughing) I can’t
stop coughing. – What were you doing? – I was playing soccer
outside and at the end I started feeling
weak and tired, and now I just
can’t stop coughing, and it’s getting and harder,
and harder for me to breathe. – There are few things as scary
as not being able to breathe, and when someone is having
a severe asthma attack, that is the exact feeling,
the gasping for breath, the tightening of the chest. Many asthma sufferers
describe it as feeling like a pillow is being
held over their face. Well today we’re
gonna talk about how to treat and manage asthma. Joining me for this
very important discussion is Tonya Winders,
President and CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network,
good morning. – Good morning,
thank you for having me. – Thanks for being here. This is really important
for so many parents. And I know that was
video, dramatic, but I’ve seen it, and
it’s pretty intense. It’s frightening. – It is. You know there are
22 million Americans currently living with asthma,
and 5 to 10% of those have a unique type
of asthma called severe asthma. And our understanding of asthma
has actually evolved quite a bit,
but it can be life threatening and extremely frightening. – So it’s a lot more
common then people think? – [Tonya] Yes, asthma
actually happens to about one in 10
people here in the US, and unfortunately
about 10 people die every day due to asthma. In fact the numbers are growing,
globally we know that over 400 million people
will have asthma by 2025. – Let’s talk about what
happens Tonya, in the lungs. What is causing it? – So when a patient is
actually experiencing an asthma flare or an asthma
attack, they’ll often say, actually what’s happening
is that their airways are closing up,
they’re constricting. But there’s also inflammation
in those airways, and it’s that inflammation
that creates mucus and clogs those airways, and
then also causes them to close. – And there are several
types of asthma. In fact, maybe two? – Actually there are
many types of asthma. – Many, okay,
– So we once, – Some are mild, more severe. – Yes, so we once thought that
asthma was a single disease, but now as science has evolved,
we understand that it’s a spectrum of disease,
mild, moderate, and severe, and even within that
severe end of the spectrum, that there are up
to, at least four, but up to probably eight or
maybe even 20 different types. – Wow, now I know there are
many treatments out there, and I’m gonna personalize,
my younger one, she had a lot of
wheezing, croup, you know the uh, uh,
– That seal bark. – That seal bark, yes,
(speaking foreign language) as we say in Spanish. (speaking foreign language)
And the first line of treatment they would give her is steroids. – Yes, oral steroids
probably right? – [Olga] Oral, yes. – And you know
oral steroids work. They are inexpensive products
that work very quickly, – Immediately. – To stop that inflammation. And they’re very useful
for some patients, but if you’re
getting oral steroids more then two times a year,
then that’s a cause for a red flag. That’s the time that
you should actually stop and think about how uncontrolled
your asthma truly is, and perhaps have a discussion
about other types of treatment that may be more appropriate. Because while those
steroids are effective, they actually have pretty
severe side effects. So oral steroids in the short
term can make you moody, or have sleep disruptance,
but in the long term, it can cause weight gain. It actually can cause diabetes,
or glaucoma, or osteoporosis. So a lot of different diseases
and side effects from overuse of oral steroids. – So what are other
treatment options for parents or people that want to
stay away from steroids? – Yeah, so again,
inhaled steroids, very important mainstay
in asthma treatment, but oral steroids are actually 10 times
more potent, so that’s the steroid that we’re talking about
is the oral steroid. And for those patients
that are having ER visits, hospitalizations, or
using more then two bursts of oral steroids, there
are now new treatments. There are targeted therapies
that are out there. We can actually
test in the breath and the blood for
patients to determine what the biomarkers are,
and what treatments those individual patients
may respond most likely to. – Which is good, because it’s
an individualized treatment for that person, as
opposed to just treating it as a one size fits all. – Absolutely. – So parents and patients
really need to be educated. It’s very important, and
I know you’ve created a wonderful campaign, an
awareness campaign if you will. It’s called Shared Decision
Making Tool, tell me about it. – Yes, so the Allergy &
Asthma Network has partnered with the Chest Foundation
and the American College of Allergy, Asthma,
and Immunology, to develop a shared
decision making tool. It’s an interactive online tool
that actually asks patients their preferences,
and their values, and then helps to tailor and target
the discussion between the patient and their provider
to get to the best possible treatment option
for that individual patient. – So it’s very
personalized, if you will. – Yes. – That’s fantastic. Alright, for our viewers
who’d like more information on the website where
can they go Tonya? – You can visit or,
or of course just go to the Balancing Act,
where you’ll see the links for both of those. – Fantastic, you’re the best. – Thank you. – You could be a
host, I appreciate it. And of course like she said,
check out our website, (upbeat rock music)

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