Asthma is a heterogenous disorder related to numerous biologic, immunologic, and physiologic components that generate multiple clinical phenotypes. Further, genetic and environmental factors interact in ways that produce variability in both disease onset and severity and differential expression based on both the age and sex of the patient. Thus, the natural history of asthma is complex in terms of disease expression, remission, relapse, and progression. As such, therapy for asthma is complicated and has been approached from the standpoints of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Presently, asthma cannot be cured but can be controlled in most patients, an indication that most of the success clinical research strategies have realized has been in the area of tertiary prevention. Since for many adult patients with asthma their disease had its roots in early life, much recent research has focused on events during early childhood that can be linked to subsequent asthma development with the hopes of creating appropriate interventions to alter its natural history of expression. These research approaches can be categorized into three questions. Who is the right patient to treat? When is the right time to begin treatment? And finally, what is the appropriate treatment to prescribe?
Keywords: asthma, therapy, inhaled corticosteroids, β-agonists