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Antifungals Ease Asthma Symptoms Even in Patients Not Allergic to Fungus, Study Shows

ThinkstockPhotos-488176769Antifungal treatments could help asthma patients breathe easier, even if they’re not allergic to fungus, Texas researchers have found in a new study presented at AAAAI’s 2016 meeting in March.

“Current data on the effectiveness of antifungal therapy in asthma and chronic sinusitis is limited but there is indication that antifungals are effective in treating severe asthmatics,” study author Dr. Evan Li said in a press release. “We hypothesized that antifungal therapy could provide immediate clinical benefits, even for those without sensitivity.”

Using data collected at a Houston allergy clinic between 2012 and 2015, researchers analyzed samples of sputum — a mixture of saliva and mucus that is typically coughed up — from 134 patients. Of those, 75 who had been diagnosed with asthma, chronic sinusitis or both were treated with either voriconazole, terbinafine, fluconazole or some combination of these non-steroidal medicines.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, was then able to follow up with 62 of those patients treated with antifungal therapies, with 54 out of 62 (87 percent) showing a benefit: half said they produced less sputum and 39 percent reported improved breathing; 32 percent said they coughed less often. Of the 62 patients, only 9 (14.5 percent) ended up testing positive for an allergy to fungus.

The researchers concluded that antifungal therapy could benefit asthmatic patients, but noted these results are preliminary.

“More research and clinical trials are needed to understand the role that antifungal agents play in asthma maintenance and treatment, but our results are very promising,” said study co-author Dr. David B. Corry.

-With files from Ishani Nath

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