Thirty two preschool children were entered into a double blind, placebo controlled study using intermittent budesonide to treat viral induced wheeze. Active treatment was either 800 micrograms twice a day via a spacer or 1600 micrograms twice a day via a spacer and facemask in those children too young to use a mouthpiece. Treatment was started at the onset of an upper respiratory tract infection and continued for seven days or until symptoms had resolved for 24 hours. Each child remained in the study until they had completed using one pair of budesonide and placebo inhalers in random order without the need for additional oral prednisolone. Twenty five children completed 28 treatment pairs. All 25 families were asked to express a preference after completing their first treatment pair: 12 preferred budesonide and six preferred placebo; seven had no preference. Symptom scores were compared in 17 treatment pairs that were completed without the need for oral prednisolone. Mean day and night time wheeze in the first week after infection were significantly lower in those receiving budesonide. Intermittent inhalation of budesonide can modify the severity of wheezing in preschool children developing asthma after viral respiratory infections but improvements were modest with the doses used in this study.
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