Expert urges diligence in monitoring analgesic sensitivity in asthmatics

November 07, 1999

November 8, 1999 -- A leading respiratory physician has today urged healthcare professionals to remain diligent in monitoring for aspirin sensitivity among people with asthma.

Dr Christine Jenkins, from the Institute of Respiratory Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia, said that diagnosing aspirin sensitive asthma was difficult and patients sometimes did not associate an asthma attack with the use of aspirin or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

"In view of these difficulties it is important for healthcare practitioners to take a proactive stance by counselling people about the risks and asking questions to determine whether aspirin sensitivity is a problem", said Dr Jenkins.

Dr Jenkins was addressing an audience of healthcare professionals and international experts at the 'Clinical Consensus -- An International Update on Paracetamol' symposium in Sydney, Australia.

According to Dr Jenkins, aspirin sensitivity affects only 0.3% of the general population although some estimates place the prevalence as high as 20% among people with asthma. Dr Jenkins pointed out that while paracetamol is well tolerated by the majority of people with asthma, cross-sensitivity can occur in some people who are sensitive to aspirin.

"Almost all people with asthma who are sensitive to aspirin will also be sensitive to NSAIDs. It is important to note that around 95% of asthmatics will not be cross sensitive to paracetamol at doses of 1000 mg", said Dr Jenkins. "This is why paracetamol should be the preferred analgesic for aspirin sensitive asthmatics."

Dr Jenkins said that increased monitoring by healthcare professionals of medicines as potential asthma triggers was an important element of ongoing asthma management.

"Identifying triggers is the preventable aspect to asthma. People who know what their triggers are can avoid them and thereby avoid serious asthma attacks. GPs and pharmacists play a key role in this process," said Dr Jenkins.

Dr Jenkins concluded: "Healthcare professionals have a very important role to play in advising asthma patients about the risks and helping them make an appropriate analgesic choice."
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MediTech Media Ltd.

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