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Don’t settle for persistent asthma symptoms

It can be easy to take something as natural as breathing for granted, but for the approximately 25 million people living with asthma in the U.S., it can sometimes be difficult.

While asthma can inflame and narrow the airways of the lungs, healthcare professionals can often help those living with asthma successfully manage their symptoms enough to participate in regular activities.

Yet not all asthma is the same, and research shows that many struggle to manage burdensome symptoms like wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath – despite adhering to their current management plan.[i] In fact, nearly 30% of people living with asthma remain symptomatic while taking their medication as prescribed.[ii][iii][iv]

“The fact that so many people living with asthma continue to experience symptoms, despite treatment, is alarming,” says Dr. David Slade, Pulmonologist and GSK Medical Affairs Lead on Asthma. “Symptoms should not have to disrupt a person’s daily life – patients shouldn’t have to compromise their health to participate in everyday activities. If that’s the case, they should speak with their doctor to explore additional solutions to managing their care.”

Recognizing that some symptoms don’t have to be a part of daily life

When the symptoms of asthma are left unmanaged, the result can be a significant disruption to daily life. Unfortunately, many have accepted their symptoms and can go years without seeking proper treatment. Rather than getting the care they need, people like Bernadette may develop coping mechanisms to deal with the burden of their symptoms.

Asthma is always in the back of my mind, but I have accepted it as part of life. It’s impacted my relationships. It dictates which of my friends’ homes I can visit because of the cleaning products, perfumes or candles they use, and I don’t go to see comedies at the movie theater with my sister anymore because laughing makes me wheeze.”

Despite the compromises Bernadette makes each day, she feels like she has her asthma under control, and she is not alone in this mentality. A GSK survey of more than 1,000 people living with asthma in the U.S. revealed that 70% of respondents felt their condition was under control when it was, in fact, not being managed effectively.[vi] This false sense of confidence may contribute to recurring asthma symptoms, increased visits to the doctor, and frequent use of a rescue inhaler.

How can people living with asthma tell when their symptoms are not well-managed? A good indicator is persistent symptoms that occur more than twice a week, like coughing late at night or early in the morning. Other signs may include using rescue inhalers as a source of quick relief more than twice a week or needing oral corticosteroid medicine for asthma attacks.[vii] If a person depends on rescue inhalers to manage frequent symptoms, it could be time to discuss the impact of their asthma with a doctor.

The burden of poorly managed asthma is significant

Research shows that failure to manage the symptoms of asthma can have a far-reaching negative impact. Not only are people with poorly controlled asthma at a higher risk for limited physical activity,[viii] but nearly 67% of respondents in GSK’s survey also said their symptoms have interfered with their overall enjoyment of life.[ix]

While asthma affects everyone differently, some people continue to struggle to manage their symptoms and there may be ways to help. People living with asthma shouldn’t let persistent symptoms get in the way of living their life.

At GSK, our scientists are committed to addressing the physical and emotional burden of asthma by advancing understanding of the disease and innovating breakthroughs to allow those struggling to breathe better

[i] CDC. Asthma - Data and Surveillance - Asthma Surveillance Data. Available at:  http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/asthmadata.htm. Last accessed April 2020

[ii] Braido F. Scientifica (Cairo). 2013;2013:549252. doi:10.1155/2013/549252

[iii] Davis J, et al. J Asthma. 2019;56(3): 332-334

[iv] Woodcock A et al. CHEST; 2013:144(4):1222–1229

[v] Lin J, et al. Respir Med. 2015;109(1):44–53

[vi] The State of Uncontrolled Asthma Patients in America Survey. Results available at: http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7806651-gsk-uncontrolled-asthma-survey/docs/updated-5-2-16-factsheet-108394756.pdf. Last accessed April 2020.

[vii] HealthGrades. 6 Signs of Uncontrolled Asthma. Available at: https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/asthma/6-signs-of-uncontrolled-asthma. Last accessed April 2020

[viii] Braido F. Scientifica (Cairo). 2013;2013:549252. doi:10.1155/2013/549252

[ix] The State of Uncontrolled Asthma Patients in America Survey. Results available at: http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7806651-gsk-uncontrolled-asthma-survey/docs/updated-5-2-16-factsheet-108394756.pdf. Last accessed April 2020.