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Think Asthma Under Control? Think Again

Survey Shows Many Adults With Asthma Mistakenly Believe They Have It Under Control
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WebMD Health News

Asthma Awareness Gap

Oct. 25, 2007 -- Most people with asthma say they have their disease under control, but experts say their symptoms tell otherwise.

A new survey shows two-thirds of adults with asthma report that they have their disease under control, but more than half say they experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or tightness in their chest at least once a week.

In addition, one in three adults with asthma say they use a rescue inhaler at least daily. Rescue medications are quick-relief medications used to immediately alleviate asthma symptoms. Guidelines warn against using a rescue inhaler more than twice a week.

"Using a rescue medication regularly is a sign that asthma is not properly controlled and you may be ailing from the disease unnecessarily," William E. Berger, MD, of the division of allergy and immunology at the University of California, Irvine, says in a news release. "Patients should talk to their doctor to evaluate their treatment regimen and find out if maintenance therapies are right for them."

Asthma Control Misconceptions

The survey of more than 4,000 adults was sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA) in association with drugmaker AstraZeneca, which produces asthma medications.

The results showed that most people with asthma (59%) try to avoid taking medications whenever possible. But one in three report using a rescue asthma inhaler at least daily, and 73% have used one in the last month.

More than half of those with asthma surveyed said their disease affects their daily life and limits their usual activities or enjoyment of everyday activities.

"These survey findings illustrate the need for a better standard of control when it comes to managing asthma," says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs at AAFA, in the news release. "There is a large disconnect between what asthma patients are saying and how they are actually affected by their asthma every day, which calls for better education on how to properly control the disease."

The results also suggested that asthma is underdiagnosed among minority groups. For example, only 8% of Hispanics surveyed said they had been diagnosed with asthma, but 58% reported asthma symptoms. A similar gap was found among African-Americans.

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