Management of acute asthma exacerbations.
Am Fam Physician. 2011 Jul 1;84(1):40-7
Authors: Pollart SM, Compton RM, Elward KS
Asthma exacerbations can be classified as mild, moderate, severe, or life threatening. Criteria for exacerbation severity are based on symptoms and physical examination parameters, as well as lung function and oxygen saturation. In patients with a peak expiratory flow of 50 to 79 percent of their personal best, up to two treatments of two to six inhalations of short-acting beta2 agonists 20 minutes apart followed by a reassessment of peak expiratory flow and symptoms may be safely employed at home. Administration using a hand-held metered-dose inhaler with a spacer device is at least equivalent to nebulized beta2 agonist therapy in children and adults. In the ambulatory and emergency department settings, the goals of treatment are correction of severe hypoxemia, rapid reversal of airflow obstruction, and reduction of the risk of relapse. Multiple doses of inhaled anticholinergic medication combined with beta2 agonists improve lung function and decrease hospitalization in school-age children with severe asthma exacerbations. Intravenous magnesium sulfate has been shown to significantly increase lung function and decrease the necessity of hospitalization in children. The administration of systemic corticosteroids within one hour of emergency department presentation decreases the need for hospitalization, with the most pronounced effect in patients with severe exacerbations. Airway inflammation can persist for days to weeks after an acute attack; therefore, more intensive treatment should be continued after discharge until symptoms and peak expiratory flow return to baseline.
PMID: 21766754 [PubMed - in process]