A double blind, crossover study was undertaken to determine whether non-specific hyperresponsiveness in subjects with asthma was reduced by long term treatment with sodium cromoglycate and, if so, whether this was related to change in lung function. Forty four adult asthmatic subjects (41 atopic, three non-atopic) entered the one year study at intervals staggered over six months. After a baseline period to ensure that asthma control was stable subjects entered the treatment period, during which they inhaled sodium cromoglycate 20 mg four times daily or matching placebo four times daily for 16 weeks each, in random order. Response was assessed at four weekly intervals by measurement of lung function and histamine inhalation tests, from which the provocative concentration of histamine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 (PC20H) was calculated. The assessment included daily symptom score, morning and evening Airflow-meter readings and treatment; mean values for each treatment period and also for the final four weeks of each period were compared. There were no significant differences between placebo and sodium cromoglycate treatment for PC20H, FEV1, morning or evening flow meter readings, bronchodilator usage, or symptom scores for the group as a whole, for the 16 week period or for the final four weeks of each period. Thirteen subjects showed better morning and evening flow meter readings while taking sodium cromoglycate than while taking placebo and eight better readings with placebo than with sodium cromoglycate (p less than 0.05). Improvement in lung function did not correlate with baseline lung function or baseline PC20H, or with features of atopy. These results suggest that long term sodium cromoglycate treatment does not alter non-specific bronchial responsiveness in adult asthmatic subjects.
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