Asthma Management Handbook

General considerations for patients who wish to use complementary therapies

Recommendations

Ask all patients whether they use complementary therapies.

How this recommendation was developed

Consensus

Based on clinical experience and expert opinion (informed by evidence, where available).

If the person is using, or is interested in using, complementary therapies, encourage them to discuss this by showing a non-judgemental attitude. Ask the person (all of):

  • the reason for their choice
  • what benefit they hope to get from it
  • what they know about the safety of the therapy.
How this recommendation was developed

Consensus

Based on clinical experience and expert opinion (informed by evidence, where available).

Advise patients that any change in regular (maintenance) asthma treatment – whether with conventional or complementary therapies – should be considered as a trial to see if it achieves better control or reduces their need for reliever.

How this recommendation was developed

Consensus

Based on clinical experience and expert opinion (informed by evidence, where available).

When trialling any change in maintenance treatment, choose a suitable time to conduct the trial (e.g. not during holiday periods, not when the patient has had a recent respiratory infection). If possible, keep other asthma treatment constant.

Follow the steps for conducting a treatment trial.

Table. Steps for conducting a treatment trial

  1. Document baseline lung function.
  2. Document baseline asthma control using a validated standardised tool such as the Asthma Score.
  3. Discuss treatment goals and potential adverse effects with the person.
  4. Run treatment trial for agreed period (e.g. 4–8 weeks, depending on the treatment and clinical circumstances, including urgency).
  5. At an agreed interval, measure asthma control and lung function again and document any adverse effects.
  6. If asthma control has not improved despite correct inhaler technique and good adherence, resume previous treatment and consider referral for specialist consultation.

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How this recommendation was developed

Consensus

Based on clinical experience and expert opinion (informed by evidence, where available).

More information

Discussing complementary medicines with patients

For more information about discussing complementary medicines with patients and monitoring their effects, refer to National Asthma Council Australia’s information paper for health professionals Asthma and complementary therapies.1

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References

  1. National Asthma Council Australia. Asthma and complementary therapies. National Asthma Council Australia, Melbourne, 2012. Available from: http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/publication/asthma-complementary-therapies-hp