Cate Howell, General practitioner, Primary Care Mental Health Unit, Department of General Practice, Adelaide

The latest Therapeutic Guidelines state that the respiratory diseases are largely unchanged but there have been new approaches to them. Since the last Respiratory edition in 2000, new drugs have been introduced and more effective delivery devices and management approaches have been developed. General practitioners require an ever-increasing knowledge base and access to comprehensive information. The Therapeutic Guidelines series are always extremely useful, and incorporate clear summary tables. This respiratory update is timely and welcome.

Given the high prevalence of asthma in Australia, it is highly relevant to have a thorough summary of asthma diagnosis and management. This topic is particularly well covered, including risk factor reduction, asthma severity classification and asthma management plans. General practitioners are commonly involved in managing long-term asthma and guidelines are provided. Clinicians will find the summary of treatment of acute asthma attacks in adults and children a useful reference.

The management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is well covered, outlines broad management strategies (such as addressing nutritional factors) and emphasises follow-up. The principles of oxygen therapy are outlined early in the book and in this section. Cough can be a problematic presentation and common underlying causes are discussed. Guidelines on conditions such as cystic fibrosis and pleural conditions are provided, and there is a very useful section on sleep apnoea which is increasingly being recognised.

It is important to refresh knowledge of pulmonary function tests regularly, and the section on these is easy to follow, assisted by diagrams. Fitness to fly and scuba dive are covered, as are respiratory drugs in pregnancy and breastfeeding. I would recommend this book as being vital for clinicians to update knowledge and have as a reference.

* Available from 03 9329 1566