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Common Asthma Treatments Don't Work for Virus-Induced Wheeze
Date:1/21/2009

Preschoolers wheezing from a cold won't benefit from steroids, study finds,,,,

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Steroid medications that are commonly prescribed to improve asthma symptoms don't help ease wheezing associated with a virus in preschoolers, two new reports suggest.

One study, from British researchers, looked at the use of oral prednisolone and found no significant differences between the treated group of children and those who received a placebo. The second study, from Canadian doctors, assessed inhaled steroids for wheezing associated with a virus, and found that while preventive treatment did reduce the need for rescue medications, the benefits weren't strong enough to outweigh the potential side effects. The research was published in the Jan. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"These are kids who are at the brink. We're still trying to see if they're just having viral-induced wheezing or if they really have asthma, and we've always treated these kids like they have asthma," said Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital in Detroit. "These studies suggest that maybe we don't need to. Maybe we should treat viral-induced wheezing differently."

Part of the problem, she explained, is that it can be difficult to tell if small children actually have asthma, or if they're just wheezing from a cold or some other virus. Babies generally wheeze due to viruses, and in school-aged children, wheeze is often indicative of asthma, but it can be hard to tell the difference in toddlers and preschoolers.

The study of oral prednisolone included 700 children between the ages of 10 months and 60 months. All had virus-induced wheezing. The children were randomly assigned to receive either a five-day course of between 10 milligrams and 20 milligrams prednisolone depending on their age or a placebo for five days.

The researchers found no stati
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