The team found no measurable difference in any of the outcomes, regardless of treatment approach.
There was an overall "treatment failure" rate of 5 percent, the study found, with failure rising to 10 percent in the autumn and winter. This seasonal fluctuation was probably linked to factors such as changes in allergen levels or viral infections, the authors explained.
According to Calhoun, treating asthma only as symptoms arise "has the potential to allow us to personalize therapy in real time."
"There are often several orders of asthma symptom progression before an asthma attack ultimately occurs, resulting in a treatment failure or hospitalization," co-author Dr. Bill Ameredes added in the news release.
"Patients using the symptoms-based adjustment regimen can treat their symptoms on the spot, which may prevent conditions from escalating to a full-blown attack," said Ameredes, an associate professor in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UTMB. He noted that because inhaled corticosteroids have lingering effects, "patients will continue to reap the benefits from the initial ... treatment days later, compared to using just a rescue inhaler."
The study also found that asthma could be controlled using just half the dose of inhaled steroids when on a symptoms-only approach, potentially cutting costs for patients. And the Texas team notes that continuous use of steroids has its own side effects, including faster cataract development, potential hormonal effects, and side effects for the mouth, throat and vocal cords.
One expert said it may not yet be time to give up the continuous-medication model, however.
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, said that "the standard practice of daily inhaled corti
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