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New inhaler recommendations for asthma patients

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NEW YORK -

Amparo Rivera nearly died of an asthma attack last year.

"The doctor had to basically put her fingers down my throat to keep my windpipe from closing," she said.

Now, she has two inhalers to control the condition. One she uses every day for prevention; the other is a rescue inhaler in case of an asthma attack.

Dr. Clifford Bassett says that's common practice in the U.S. But a new study in Europe, published in the Lancet, finds that combining both medications in one inhaler may be a better solution.

"They were able to treat people effectively with one medication for inflammation and bronchodilation," Bassett said.

Patients in the study used that combination inhaler twice a day. If symptoms came on, rather than use a separate relief inhaler, they just took another puff on the combo inhaler. For patients with moderate or severe asthma, the single inhaler worked better than two.

"There was a 39 percent improvement in the reduction of asthma episodes," Bassett said.

Serena Huang has had asthma most of her life. She has two inhalers, but would prefer just one.

"I don't want to be carrying different inhalers around and doing two or three medications and inhalers every day," she said.

But Bassett says the study results are still too new to change his practice.

"We want patients to know if they have active asthma they need to carry their rescue inhaler with them at all times.

Especially as we head into allergy season, which can be a dangerous trigger for asthma.

Doctors say this will be one of the worst allergy seasons in years and one of the longest. The season actually began in February and is expected to continue into October.

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