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Practice patterns for oral corticosteroid burst therapy in the outpatient management of acute asthma exacerbations

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The use of a short course of oral corticosteroids (OCS), or “steroid burst,” is standard practice in the outpatient management of acute severe exacerbations of asthma. Despite published guidelines, the actual practice patterns are unknown. A Web-based survey about typical patterns of OCS administration and total steroid burst dose was administered to pulmonologists (n = 150), allergists (n = 150), primary care physicians (n = 153), and pediatricians (n = 150). No predominant dosing regimen was observed, although a fixed single daily dose was the most commonly prescribed regimen (59%). The majority of physicians treating patients ≥12 years of age prescribed a total burst dose of ≤200 mg and essentially all (99.7%) prescribed ≤600 mg. Among physicians treating younger children, approximately one-quarter prescribed ≤1 mg/kg per day for 3 days (27.8% for children aged 5‐11 years of age and 28.1% for children aged <5 years, respectively) and essentially all prescribed ≤2 mg/kg per day for 10 days (99.8% for children aged 5‐11 years and 100% for children aged <5 years of age). When prescribing OCS burst therapy for asthma exacerbations, physicians tend to prescribe less than the upper dose recommended in the guidelines; with many physicians prescribing a total steroid burst dose below the lower end of the recommended dose range. Additional study is needed to determine the optimal dose and duration for treating exacerbations of asthma with OCS to minimize both side effects and time to reestablishing asthma control.

Keywords: Adults; asthma; corticosteroid; exacerbation; guidelines; outcomes; pediatrics; steroid; treatment

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massascusetts, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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