An Expert's Perspective on Treating Severe Asthma


Praveen Akuthota, MD

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Severe asthma—asthma that’s not well controlled despite trying all the usual treatments—can be difficult to manage. Fortunately, new medications are available that can help patients breathe more easily and control symptoms effectively. Pulmonologist Praveen Akuthota answers common questions his patients ask him about staying on top of severe asthma.

1. Q: How is severe asthma treated?

A: Once patients are diagnosed with severe asthma, they’re typically already taking a whole collection of medications, but their asthma is still not well controlled. The next step might be adding a biologic agent, which lowers levels of an antibody that creates inflammation. We might also try adding newer therapies that block proteins in the blood and tissues called cytokines. One type of cytokine, called IL-5, helps eosinophils survive and develop; eosinophils contribute to inflammation that makes asthma worse. New IL-5 inhibitors lower the number of eosinophils in the blood, decreasing inflammation and alleviating asthma symptoms. Not everyone’s severe asthma is related to eosinophils, but if you do have eosinophilic asthma, these new medications can greatly benefit you.

When asthma doesn't respond to consistent treatment, it's considered severe asthma. Watch this video for more severe asthma facts.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 12, 2017

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