August 1st 2003
ABSTRACT: Many patients with presumed mild intermittent asthma have unrecognized persistent symptoms; these can be elicited with specific questioning about coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nighttime awakenings, and exercise intolerance. Asthma severity may vary with the season. For asthmatic patients with predictable seasonal allergies, prescribe inhaled corticosteroids for a few weeks or months beginning 2 to 3 weeks before usual symptom onset. Successful long-term management requires identification and control of asthma triggers, such as cigarette smoke, house dust mites, cockroaches, molds, and animal dander. Removing triggers or minimizing the patient's exposure to them may allow improved asthma control with lower dosages of corticosteroids.