Seven in ten Australians with asthma over the age of 12 may be prescribed too many preventative medicines. In Australian prescriber Prof Helen Reddel and co-authors from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research write about finding the lowest effective dose to control asthma.
From the 2021 census, we know that more than 2 million Australians have asthma. It is one of the three most common long-term health problems in Australia. Using medications wisely is important for living well with asthma.
“There are many reasons why you may be taking a higher dose of asthma prevention medication than you need,” says Prof. Reddel.
If your asthma has been stable for more than three months, see your doctor. Perhaps it is possible to lower the dose.”
Prof Helen Reddel, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research
This can sometimes save you money. Provided your treatment still prevents asthma flare-ups, it can also reduce the chances of unusual side effects such as cataracts and brittle bones.
“With asthma there is no ‘one size fits all'”, says Prof. Reddel.
“The medicines and doses required are personalized for each patient.
“For example, if you have very mild asthma, you may not need to take a preventative medicine regularly. There are new Australian guidelines about a puffer that you can only use if you have symptoms, that relieves symptoms and also contains a preventive medicine.
“Don’t stop taking preventive medications without medical advice. Your doctor can monitor your asthma medications and update your asthma action plan,” she says.
Reddel, HK, et al. (2022) How to taper off asthma preventer treatment in patients with well-controlled asthma – more isn’t always better. Australian prescriber. doi.org/10.18773/austprescr.2022.033.