Book Review  |   April 2006
One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know
Author Affiliations
    American Osteopathic Association
    Editor in Chief
Article Information
Book Review   |   April 2006
One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2006, Vol. 106, 192. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.4.192
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, April 2006, Vol. 106, 192. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.4.192
Approximately 18 million people in the United States have asthma. Many of these individuals know little about their condition and fail to receive adequate care. Since its first edition in 1991, One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know, by Thomas F. Plaut, MD, has been a best-selling pocket manual helping patients properly manage their asthma. Now in its seventh edition, this brief, easy-to-understand guide remains a potentially useful resource for both patient and physician. Patients could bring the manual home and use it to educate their families about their condition—a step that is important for receiving the best care. Physicians could use the manual to help convey important information to their patients and to make sure that they and their patients are “on the same page” when it comes to managing their condition. 
The author of One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know is a well-known pediatrician who has spent most of his career caring for patients with asthma. He also serves as a consultant for physicians, health maintenance organizations, and other healthcare organizations. Dr Plaut's experience and communication skills are put to good use as he conveys many of the guidelines from the National Institutes of Health's National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report (available at: 
One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know is divided into six chapters: “Basics,” “Peak Flow,” “Diaries and Action Plans,” “Medicines,” “Inhalation Devices,” and “Resource Section.” 
In “Basics,” the first chapter, Dr Plaut discusses how patients can control asthma and find physicians who specialize in asthma management, what happens inside the bronchioles during an asthma episode, and ways in which patients can reduce their exposure to asthma triggers in the home and school. I found the section on asthma triggers to be especially useful. This chapter also presents brief guidelines to enable a patient to gauge the severity level of his or her asthma. 
The “Peak Flow” chapter features information on how patients should use a peak flow meter to measure the rate at which they can blow air out of their lungs. Such measurements often provide an early warning of an asthma episode for a patient, allowing the patient to control the symptoms promptly and avoid a trip to the emergency room. This chapter also includes a helpful diagram of peak flow zones. 
In “Diaries and Action Plans,” the author presents information on how patients can keep asthma diaries to help them learn how triggers and medications affect their symptoms and peak flow measures. An example of a diary chart shows how patients can rate their signs and symptoms and keep track of their medications. This chapter also has information on integrating asthma action plans into the disease management process. Included are two charts of four-zone action plans—one for adults and children 5 years and older and another for children younger than 5 years. 
The chapter “Medicines” features informative descriptions of the three main types of medications used in the management of asthma. These are control medications (eg, inhaled steroids, leukotriene modifiers), quick relief medications (eg, β2-agonists, ipratropium), and oral steroids (eg, prednisone). Dr Plaut provides examples of the possible adverse effects of these medications as well as other comments on their use. 
“Inhalation Devices” offers tips on which inhaled medications to use first during an asthma episode and how to use inhalation devices properly. The discussion in this chapter covers the use of holding chambers (“spacers”), dry powder inhalers, and compressor-driven nebulizers. 
The final chapter in the manual, “Resource Section,” lists several books, Web sites, and organizations that are useful for patients and physicians in asthma management. 
The text in One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know is complemented nicely by line drawings produced by artist Carla Brennan. These drawings illustrate such important concepts as the narrowing of bronchioles during an asthma episode, the proper use of a flow meter, and the correct positions in which to hold various types of inhalers. 
One Minute Asthma: What You Need to Know has much to offer both adult and pediatric patients as well as their families. I also recommend it as a valuable information and teaching resource for physicians who care for patients with asthma.♦ 
 By Thomas F. Plaut, MD. 7th ed, 64 pp, $5.00. ISBN 0-914625-28-4. Amherst, Mass: Pedipress Inc; 2005.