Eosinophilic asthma is a type of asthma that is hard to manage and quite severe. Here are the symptoms of this respiratory condition.
Patients with eosinophilic asthma may exhibit poor asthma control, experiencing more frequent and life-threatening asthma attacks. Unlike other forms of asthma, this form may affect the entire respiratory system, not just the lungs.
The symptoms of eosinophilic asthma are similar to those of other kinds of asthma, although they are often too severe and difficult to control with conventional treatments, such as using inhalers. Symptoms can include:
Additionally, these symptoms are often only associated with eosinophilic asthma (and not other types):
- Chronic rhinosinusitis (sinus infection)
- Congestion and nasal drainage
- Nasal polyps (growths of skin in the sinuses)
- Anosmia (loss of ability to smell)
What is eosinophilic asthma?
Eosinophilic asthma is a type of asthma caused by the inflammation of the respiratory system. Blood cells called eosinophils are responsible for this swelling.
This type of asthma often starts in adulthood and is difficult to manage. Eosinophils usually help the body fight off parasitic illnesses. However, too many of these blood cells in the bloodstream can result in the secretion of toxic chemicals that inflame the body’s airways and obstruct them with mucus. While other types of asthma only cause swelling in the lungs, eosinophilic asthma affects the entire respiratory system.
Eosinophilic asthma is quite rare. Though experts don’t know the exact prevalence of the condition, estimates say about only 5 percent of asthma sufferers have it. Unfortunately, the cause remains unknown. However, those with eosinophilic asthma do not usually have any disease-related allergies that provoke their symptoms. Many ongoing clinical trials aim to investigate the potential causes of the condition.
What are the treatment options available for eosinophilic asthma?
Eosinophilic asthma has no cure and the effects can be severe. However, several treatment options can help control it, making working with your doctor a vital step in finding a plan that works best for you.
Treatment for eosinophilic asthma can come in the following forms:
- Treatment can come in the form of an inhaler or pill and is usually taken daily for asthma maintenance.
- Because eosinophilic asthma can be resistant to inhalers, corticosteroid pills are more likely to be diagnosed for this condition.
- These rescue medicines are fast-acting inhalers that open your airways quickly if they are swollen and causing trouble breathing.
- Leukotrienes are chemicals in the body that contribute to causing inflammation. These modifiers lessen the effects of leukotrienes and minimize the production of the chemical to prevent asthma attacks and manage symptoms.
- Like corticosteroids, these medications are for asthma maintenance, not for immediate relief during an asthma attack.
- Drugs that are chemically engineered to behave like human antibodies (immune proteins). They are typically used in conjunction with other asthma medications, and are administered by injection or intravenously.
- Biologics that treat eosinophilic asthma block the immune system protein interleukin-5 (IL-5) and lessen the body’s production of eosinophils.
- Biologics that are currently approved for use in the United States include the following:
- Benralizumab: Antibody that binds IL-5 receptors. Recommended for people 12 years and older
- Dupilumab: Interleukin-4 (IL-4) and Interleukin-13 (IL-13) inhibitor and binds to the IL-4 alpha receptor. Recommended for people 12 years and older
- Mepolizumab: An antibody that recognizes and blocks IL-5. Recommended for people six years and older
- Reslizumab: An antibody that recognizes and blocks IL-5. Recommended for people 18 years and older
Although it can be a severe condition, advances in asthma treatment make it possible to manage your eosinophilic asthma. If you have symptoms of this condition, talk to your doctor and keep track of what you think your asthma triggers are so you can find a treatment plan that works best for you. Many treatments and therapies are already underway to improve the lives of eosinophilic asthma sufferers.