Most people who have inhalers don't actually need them, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study looked at whether or not steroid based inhalers were helping the patients taking them. They found that there was no difference between the group using inhalers, and the group without them.
This is a big deal because a ton of people in the United States have steroidal inhalers. About 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma, costing each person about $3,300 every year in medical expenses, missed pay and early death.
The study the effectiveness of inhalers, scientists gathered 340 patients with asthma. The press release explains:
The researchers looked at several outcomes, including bronchial reactivity, lung function, days missed from school/work and exacerbation of symptoms and attacks, for each adjustment regimen over the course of nine months – a timeframe that allowed them to adjust and account for seasonal variations. They found no measurable difference in outcomes among the three treatment methods.
Senior author Homer Boushey told Medical Xpress:
"The goal of our study was to compare different approaches to adjusting inhaled corticosteroid treatment on the frequency and severity of asthma attacks and on quality of life,'' Boushey said. "This is not a treatment breakthrough but it may possibly open the door to a new approach to treatment, and it will certainly be considered by the expert panel for the NIH's guidelines for asthma treatment. "This approach allows personalization of treatment and is easy for patients. Also, it could hypothetically result in saving $2 billion a year in medication costs,'' Boushey said.
So before you reach for that inhaler, think twice. It might not be helping you at all.
Image: Niel T