Asthma in adults: Principles of treatment

Jason H. Kwah, Anju T. Peters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The goals of treatment are prevention of fatalities, hospitalizations, and emergency department visits, along with achieving good long-term control of asthma, with reduction of symptoms, maintenance of normal activity level, prevention of exacerbations and accelerated loss of pulmonary function (forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration [FEV1]), and avoidance of harm from therapies. Treatment is often initiated based on the severity of symptoms, physical examination findings, and, for some patients, the FEV1 or peak expiratory flow rates. Comorbidities such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and laryngopharyngeal reflux, rhinitis or rhinosinusitis, sleep apnea, recurrent infections, smoking, and substance abuse should be addressed. Two treatment modalities are indicated only for individuals with allergic asthma: allergen-specific immunotherapy (commonly known as allergy shots), and biologic therapies that target type-2 (T2) inflammation. Allergen immunotherapy is effective in decreasing symptoms and medication use in select patients with mild-to-moderate allergic asthma. In addition, patients who receive allergen immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis may have a decreased risk of developing asthma. Omalizumab, mepolizumab, reslizumab, benralizumab, and dupilumab are monoclonal antibodies that target T2 inflammation and are indicated for either moderate-to-severe or severe asthma. These have been well studied to improve asthma symptoms and have specific characteristics unique to each individual medication. A focus on adherence can be considered in choosing therapy because it is not clear which biologic to choose in T2 high asthma at this time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-402
Number of pages7
JournalAllergy and asthma proceedings
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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