inhaled steroids, sex hormones

For many people, asthma is a mysterious condition. Wheezing and shortness of breath may seem to come from nowhere. Health professionals frequently blame asthma on allergies. Perhaps a person is allergic to a beloved cat. Dust mites that live in mattresses or upholstered furniture may also be blamed. Whatever the presumed cause, this inflammatory condition can be a lifelong challenge. Once diagnosed, the most likely prescriptions will be inhaled corticosteroids and bronchodilators. What doctor would ever think to cure asthma with antifungal medication?

An Amazing and Unexpected Way to Cure Asthma:

Q. My wife had severe asthma for 35 years, from the time she was a little girl. She used all sorts of inhalers and sometimes she needed oral prednisone.

Then, in middle age, she developed nail fungus. The doctor finally prescribed oral itraconazole (Sporanox) to clear it up. She had to take this antifungal medicine for more than a year while the nails grew out.

Several months into the treatment, she realized that her asthma was better. By the end of the treatment, she no longer had asthma. She hasn’t needed any asthma medicine since, and that was decades ago. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

A. Until we heard your story we would have said there is no way to cure asthma with an antifungal drug. But then we started digging through the medical literature.

It turns out that some people with hard-to-manage asthma have an allergic response to a fungus that has colonized their airways (Journal of Asthma, Sept. 2016).  This condition can be treated with antifungal medicine (Medical Mycology Case Reports, April 25, 2017).

Such drugs are tricky, though, as they often interact with other medicines and carry a range of risks.

Itraconazole (Sporanox) Side Effects & Interactions:

  • Digestive upset (indigestion, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, gas, diarrhea, constipation)
  • Fluid retention
  • Skin reactions (rash, itching, sweating)*
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Liver problems (elevated liver enzymes, liver damage)
  • Cardiovascular problems (hypertension, chest pain, low potassium levels, congestive heart failure)
  • Elevated triglycerides
  • Psychological side effects (nervousness, depression)
  • Muscle pain
  • Nerve pain in extremities (peripheral neuropathy)
  • Hearing problems

Drug Interactions Can be Deadly:

Anyone taking itraconazole must have the prescribing physician AND the pharmacist double and triple check for drug interactions. There is a black box warning with this medicine that says:

Drug Interactions:

“Coadministration of the following drugs are contraindicated with SPORANOX® Capsules: methadone, disopyramide, dofetilide, dronedarone, quinidine, isavuconazole, ergot alkaloids (such as dihydroergotamine, ergometrine (ergonovine), ergotamine, methylergometrine (methylergonovine)), irinotecan, lurasidone, oral midazolam, pimozide, triazolam, felodipine, nisoldipine, ivabradine, ranolazine, eplerenone, cisapride, naloxegol, lomitapide, lovastatin, simvastatin, avanafil, ticagrelor. In addition, coadministration with colchicine, fesoterodine and solifenacin is contraindicated in subjects with varying degrees of renal or hepatic impairment, and coadministration with eliglustat is contraindicated in subjects that are poor or intermediate metabolizers of CYP2D6 and in subjects taking strong or moderate CYP2D6 inhibitors. See PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS Section for specific examples. Coadministration with itraconazole can cause elevated plasma concentrations of these drugs and may increase or prolong both the pharmacologic effects and/or adverse reactions to these drugs. For example, increased plasma concentrations of some of these drugs can lead to QT prolongation and ventricular tachyarrhythmias including occurrences of torsades de pointes, a potentially fatal arrhythmia.”

Make sure that if you are taking any other medications with Sporanox someone has checked carefully to eliminate any potential problems.

Another Unexpected Asthma Drug:

Another medication that may help hard-to-treat asthma is the antibiotic azithromycin. A randomized controlled trial (AMAZES) showed that people taking azithromycin along with asthma inhalers had fewer flare-ups and better quality of life (The Lancet, Aug. 12, 2017).

You will find much more information about this approach in the book, A Cure for Asthma? What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You–and Why, by Dr. David Hahn. Here is a link.

Share your own asthma story in the comment section. Have you been able to cure asthma? If so, we would love to hear about it.

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  1. Sandra

    I came home from a two-year stint in a nursing home from a car accident. After I got home I started having really bad wheezing, constantly using my inhaler. I thought it was my son’s cat. I went to live with a friend. He had a lot of cats. My wheezing got worse. I begin to stay inside my motor home. I have spent the last year and a half with constant wheezing. One day I noticed my feet were covered with toe fungus. They were worse than they’ve ever been. I have had trouble all my life with foot fungus. I also keep getting thrush from the use of inhalers. I used the oral liquid type med but it always comes back if I don’t brush and rinse after using inhalers when I went to the doc’s for my feet.

    I had never seen them look this bad. He put me on a Lamisil pill for fungus. It’s only been two weeks, and my feet still look bad but I quit using my inhaler a lot. I was using it every couple hours and now only a couple times a day. I don’t know what’s happening or if it’s the fungal med. My wheezing is so much better, like a difference between day and night. I see the doc on the first of March. He is going to be shocked. I think you’re right. I always had bouts of fungus problems but never put the two together till I saw your stories. Thank you for helping.

  2. Joni

    I have always had miild to moderate asthma, worse during ragweed season. Triggered also by exercise, cold weather, even laughing. My allergies and asthma became much worse over the last 3-4 years despite eliminating every possible trigger I could think of. I was on anticholinergics, steroid inhalers, nebulizers and still had to use my rescue inhaler every 2 hours. I was up half of ever night, with itchy throat, eye, ears, throat inflamed, triggering my wheezing/ asthma. I went through boxes of tissues. Finally, it dawned on me, could I be allergic to something in the tissues? I stopped using the Kleenex and sure enough, my allergies and asthma began to improve. I eliminated my exposure to all paper products near my face and I have been able to get off the steroid inhalers and nebulizers. Now I only use Singulair and occasional albuterol. I hated using steroid inhalers, they can cause cataracts and glaucoma, which now I have both. So very happy to not have to use steroids anymore. Who would have thought Kleenex would cause allergies and aggravate asthma?

  3. nancy

    I do not have asthma, but have been told by a few people from Mexico that they were cured right away by sprinkling powdered rattlesnake bones on their food. The snake needs to be prepared a certain way first, however. I cannot vouch for this as being true, but may be worth looking into.

  4. vicki g

    Two allergists, one ENT and one internist and nobody cured my constant coughing and asthmatic condition.
    The second allergist from Chicago ‘s venerable Northwestern Memorial Hospital told me I would die if I didn’t take steroids

    I did take spray antihistamines and blood pressure reached 200!

    Then a went to the most intelligent allergist who noted that I took nexium for acid reflux

    He put me on diet restricting acids, alchol and fried foods.

    Cough gone and bp down to normal

    shame on other doctors who push pills and not common sense

    hope this helps others

  5. Wayne

    I got a noticeable relief from asthma symptoms by pouring vinegar on a wash cloth and breathing thru it.Had a suspicion for some time there was a fungal connection.Inhalers for years gave little relief. Now twice a week does the trick.

  6. Brent
    NW IL

    Oil of oregano and also rosemary (both recommended by Dr. Cass Ingram’s ‘The Respiratory Solution’) have worked well for me. The key is to build up your nutrition with whole foods and avoid wheat / grains whenever possible. I also take Alive! Men’s Ultra Potency daily multivitamins, and magnesium is another very helpful mineral. Just add a capful of Epsom salt to your daily bath. And keep a journal of the inputs that help as well as those that rev up your asthma. Finally, get a good water filter (especially one that removes chlorine) and HEPA air filters. Then you can breathe a long-needed sigh of real relief!

  7. Starart

    All my life I have tried to be a runner but could never get more than a half mile without being extremely winded. I’ve always been very active being an avid tennis player. After living most of our career years in northern Wisconsin we moved to southern Florida where I play even more tennis. With the higher heat and humidity I was finding I couldn’t run more than a few feet without being extremely winded and needing to crouch down to catch my breath. After several doctors’ visits and a visit to a pulmonary clinic I was dx’d with activity/sport induced asthma. I had been using an inhaler while on the tennis court as needed and using a discus once-a-day inhaler.

    Last year I decided to drop a few pounds so I started eating fruits and veggies and cut out carbs and a lot of white foods. Coincidentally, I had been away over a week, came back to play tennis (and may have lost a couple pounds). As I was playing I quickly realized I was running around like a bunny and, incredibly, I wasn’t heaving breathing and having to crouch as I normally would have been, seeing stars. In between games, as we four players were getting a drink, I mentioned what had just happened. They all knew I had asthma issues and I said it was weird how just the loss of a couple pounds could have such a positive affect on how wonderously I could run and still breathe. One of my friends piped up and said “Could it be what you cut out of your diet?”

    Long story short, it is. I have cut out all wheat and rye (needless to say I was a pasta addict). I don’t have Ciliacs. However, but from doing my own experiment, by eating a big wheaty dinner roll when we had gone out to eat and going out to play tennis the next day, my breathing symptoms were even worse. I now know I am going the Gluten free route. I no longer use any asthma meds and am still running like a bunny after the tennis ball, asthma free!

  8. Carole

    Well, I am not surprised. As a podiatrist with minimal pharmaceutical experience (we are not ‘doctors, anywhere but in the US. I am UK/Australia trained), I have noticed that longer, higher doses of antifungal medications cure/improve everything from eczema to auto immune diseases. I am falling toward the naturopath idea that there is a lot of Candidiasis that is totally hidden. MD doctors just don’t want to know.

    But should the doctor decide that the problem is bacterial, not fungal, and prescribes anti-biotics, the whole condition/s get worse.

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