Allergy and asthma proceedings

Early intervention with high-dose inhaled corticosteroids for control of acute asthma exacerbations at home and improved outcomes: a randomized controlled trial.

PMID 23394509


Various studies have examined the efficacy of a temporary increase in the dose of inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs) during acute asthma exacerbations with conflicting results. This study was designed to investigate the efficacy of high-dose ICSs in controlling asthma exacerbations in children. Data were collected on asthmatic children, aged 2-17 years, who were maintained on ICSs. Participants were randomly assigned to a 12-day treatment protocol for acute asthma exacerbation at doses of ICS that were two, four, or eight times their maintenance ICS dose. The primary outcome was the frequency of need to progress to systemic steroid therapy. The secondary outcome was difference in symptom scores among the three treatment groups to determine if one dosing protocol was superior to another. Eighty-two of 197 enrolled patients experienced acute asthma exacerbation and completed the increased dosing protocol. No significant difference in systemic corticosteroid use was detected between patients treated with two, four, or eight times their maintenance dose of ICS, but we observed a trend toward a larger reduction in mean total symptom score with increasing ICS dose at the end of the study. We did not observe a significant difference in need for systemic corticosteroids between doubling the maintenance dose and increasing to four or eight times the dose, but we observed a trend suggesting that higher doses may improve symptoms better than doubling the dose. A more specific design may be needed to provide a more reliable answer to this question.

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