(03/18/14) - The same device that stops snoring may be a drug-free treatment for
asthma. More than 25 million Americans suffer from asthma. Steroids, inhalers
and pills are the main methods used to control symptoms, but a drug free
solution may have been right under our noses for a long time.
College professor Kurt Stoecker spends many late nights grading papers, but some nights his asthma gets the best of him, "you can't sleep, that kind of thing. It's a tightness in your chest, and, and your chest also, you cough."
Kurt was diagnosed with asthma at age 16. He's taken steroids and inhalers, but now he's trying a CPAP machine, as part of a clinical trial. Doctors are testing whether treatment with the machines will improve symptoms in asthma patients by making their airways less reactive.
"At nighttime, their muscles that are around their windpipes are not being allowed to relax. In essence, they're working almost 24 hours a day," says Dr. Mario Castro, of Washington University School of Medicine.
The CPAP pushes gentle air down the windpipe, forcing the muscles to relax. It's typically used for patients with sleep apnea, but doctors say it could be the first drug-free option for asthma patients.
In the 12-week study, patients used the device for at least four hours a day, with no serious side effects, Castro says, "the most exciting thing is that it's not a drug. This is a device."
Kurt watches TV while his CPAP goes to work, "I don't even notice it, honestly."
The hope is patients will only need to use the c-pap for a period of time -not indefinitely -to see results. Researchers at 19 sites across the country are still recruiting patients for this clinical trial, which is sponsored by the American lung association.
For more information on how to enroll, visit www.lung.org
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