Managing Asthma: A Life-Threatening Condition?

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Sewanee University of the South
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Asthma is a health condition characterized by narrowing and swelling of the airways. Individuals with asthma also produce extra mucus from their respiratory system, which renders them to experience difficulties in breathing - a condition which also triggers wheezing as well as coughing. In some people, asthma can be a long term manageable health condition. However, to other people, asthma can be a life-threatening condition capable of interfering with their day-to-day activities. To date, no cure has been developed for asthma. Nevertheless, the symptoms of the health condition can be controlled through the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Asthmatic conditions can change with time. If not monitored, the symptoms such as coughing or difficulties in normal breathing can intensify and at times place an asthmatic person's life at risk. As such, it is imperative for asthmatic persons to work progressively with healthcare practitioners to keep track of any changes in the condition's symptoms that could endanger their life.

Problems Experienced By Patients and Families Due To Asthma

Anxiety is the primary problem experienced by patients with asthma. The inability to breath properly due to elevated levels of mucus in a person's respiratory system could cause an anxiety attack on an individual (Bernstein & Levy, 2014). Subsequently, such heightened levels of anxiety if exposed to patients' for a long time could result in depression (Gao et al., 2015). Lastly, non-adherence to asthmatic treatment interventions is also an issue that affects people with asthma. That is because continuous treatment of asthma is required to secure improved healthcare outcomes (Emilsson, 2017). On the other hand, the families of asthmatic persons experience stress and anxiety in taking care of their loved ones who might be affected by the health condition (Taylor, 2013). Such stress may be caused by the large financial burden imposed on relatives in catering for the patients' medical interventions in the treatment of asthma.

Psychological Theory That Can Be Used in Treatment and Management of Asthma

The most effective theory that can be employed in the prevention, management, and treatment of asthma is the biopsychosocial theory. The theory was invented by George L. Engel in 1977 as a strategy for illustrating the development of various diseases due to complex interactions (Guillemin & Barnard, 2015). Such interactions are from biological, psychological as well as social factors in an individual's environment. In this model, Engel strived to use a holistic approach, whereby he recognized that each patient has his/her own feelings, thoughts as well as history. Such factors can be studied through the use of the biopsychosocial approach to explain how their interactions can contribute to the development of asthma.

There are also a number of research performed in the past that has supported the efficacy of utilizing the biopsychosocial model in managing and preventing the development of asthma in patients. Among such research is the one authored by Marion Brenner and published online in 2009. The research cited that the biopsychosocial model could be utilized in the treatment of childhood asthma (Brenner, 2009). In different research performed by Sarah woods and Lenore Mcwey 2011, the biopsychosocial model could be effective in helping asthmatic students facing child protective service (Woods & McWey, 2011). The two types of research among others have effectively portrayed that the biopsychosocial model can be utilized to identify the causative factors of various diseases like asthma in people.

Impact of Health Psychologists in Helping Patients Coup with Asthma

Health psychologists are professionals who have studied the behavioral process of people in relation to health, diseases and healthcare delivery. In a clinical setting, health psychologists help patients to modify their behavior as well as lifestyles so as to enable them to recover from health conditions. Asthma, particularly, is a health condition that requires the affected individuals to abstain from lifestyle choices that could worsen their asthmatic condition. For instance, the continued consumption of tobacco or marijuana after being diagnosed with the disease can make an asthmatic individual more susceptible to a life-threatening asthma attack (Cerveri et al., 2012). Additionally, through proper guidance and counseling, health psychologists can help asthmatic persons in denial to accept their medical state and use the prescribed medical interventions like drugs to manage their situation. Moreover, the advisory by health psychologists is important because living positively can help asthmatic patients to live a long and productive life with the health condition.

Current Research on Asthma

The current research on asthma treatment is focused on developing treatment drugs that do not have corticosteroids as part of their chemical compounds. Research executed by Rabe et al. (2018) certified the efficacy as well as safety of using Dupilumab as an effective antibody that can be employed in the treatment of the glucocorticoid-dependent severe asthmatic condition. The use of Dupilumab was appropriate in place of high doses of prednisone since the latter drug has in the past been attributed to severe side effects on the asthmatic patients (Rabe, et al., 2018). Although corticosteroid-constituted drugs have been effective in managing asthma in the past, the side effects of the drug may worsen the wellness state of an individual already afflicted by asthma.

To date, there are a number of other research studies that are under progress, which are focused on developing other enhanced and effective asthmatic treatment drugs like dupilumab. Examples of such research as published by the Asthma Research Center (2019) include the Severe Persistent Asthma Study, Ifetroban Study as well as the Severe Asthma Research Program (SARP) (Asthma Research Center, 2019). Other researches include the Steroids in Eosinophil Negative Asthma (SIENA) as well as the Best African American Response to Asthma Drugs (BARD) (Asthma Research Center, 2019). All the stated research have been focused on inventing the most effective pharmaceutical drugs for treating and managing asthma, and with limited side effects on the patient.

Future of Asthma Treatment

In the future, the use of corticosteroids for the treatment of asthma will entirely be eradicated. Additionally, that is because current researches on effective asthma treatments are focused on inventing drugs that do not contain corticosteroids. Current asthma treatment drugs like prednisone contain high levels of corticosteroids. Past research has ascertained that corticosteroids are linked with adverse health side effects, which include multi-organ toxicities as well as immunosuppression (Heffler, et al., 2018; Dahl, 2006). Alternative medicine with no corticosteroids will not only promote the health and wellness of asthmatic individuals but also protect them from a range of curative treatment drugs. Research published by O'Byrne, Naji and Gauvreau (2012) also ascertained that for the future, a variety of asthma treatment methods are under investigation. The research theorized that new treatment methods for asthma will be created, particularly those that optimize lung functions to improve the breathing process for asthmatic individuals (O'Byrne, Naji & Gauvreau, 2012). Cumulatively, such efforts focused on adopting the best treatment methods for preventing, treating and managing asthma will go a long way in promoting improved healthcare comes among asthmatic patients.


In conclusion, it is imperative for asthmatic persons to work progressively with healthcare practitioners to keep track of any changes in the condition's symptoms that could endanger their life. Examples of the problems that can be experienced by asthmatic patients include anxiety, difficulties in breathing, and problems with non-adherence to treatment. In addition, the families of such asthmatic patients can experience elevated levels of anxiety and stress in taking care of their asthmatic loved ones. The biopsychosocial model is among the most effective theories that can be employed in the prevention, management as well as treatment of asthma. The method is a strategy that can be employed to illustrate the development of various diseases like asthma, due to complex interactions between people. Additionally, such interactions are from biological, psychological as well as social factors in an individual's environment. Also, current research on asthma treatment is focused on developing treatment drugs that do not have corticosteroids as part of their chemical composition. That is because corticosteroids are linked to a number of negative side effects on a patient when they are employed for the treatment of asthmatic conditions. Ultimately, in the future, it is plausible to state that the use of corticosteroids for the treatment of asthma will be eradicated entirely. In this case, alternative medicine with no corticosteroids will be used and they will not only promote the health of asthmatic individuals but they will also protect them from a range of negative side effects.


Asthma Research Center. (2019). Current Studies. Retrieved from Brigham and Women's Hospital: Asthma Research Center:

Brenner, M. (2009). Childhood Asthma: A Developmental and Biopsychosocial Model for Treatment: Editorial. Journal of Asthma, 28 (6), 401-403

Cerveri, I., Cazzoletti, L., Corsico, A. G., Marcon, A., Niniano, R., Grosso, A., ... de Marco, R. (2012). The impact of cigarette smoking on asthma: a population-based international cohort study. International archives of allergy and immunology, 158(2), 175-183. doi:10.1159/000330900

Dahl, R. (2006). Systemic side effects of inhaled corticosteroids in patients with asthma. Respiratory Medicine , 2006 (100), 1308-1315. doi:10.1016/j.rmed.2005.11.020

Gao, Y. H., Zhao, H. S., Zhang, F. R., Gao, Y., Shen, P., Chen, R. C., & Zhang, G. J. (2015). The Relationship between Depression and Asthma: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. PloS one, 10(7), e0132424. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132424

Guillemin, M., & Barnard, E. (2015). George Libman Engel: The Biopsychosocial Model and the Construction of Medical Practice. The Palgrave Handbook of Social Theory in Health, Illness and Medicine , 236-250.

Heffler, E., Madeira, L. N., Ferrando, M., Puggioni, F., Racca, F., Malvezzi, L., et al. (2018). Inhaled Corticosteroids Safety and Adverse Effects in Patients with Asthma. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 6 (3), 776-781. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2018.01.025

O'Byrne, P. M., Naji, N., & Gauvreau, G. M. (2012). Severe asthma: future treatments. Clinical and experimental allergy: Journal of the British's society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 42 (5), 706-711. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2012.03965.x.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Rabe, K. F., Nair, P., Brusselle, G., Maspero, J. F., Castro, M., Sher, L., et al. (2018). Efficacy and Safety of Dupilumab in Glucocorticoid-Dependent Severe Asthma. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2018 (378), 2475-2485. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1804093

Woods, S., & McWey, L. (2011). A Biopsychosocial Approach to Asthma in Adolescents Encountering Child Protective Services. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 37 (4), 404-413. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsr104

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