What is asthma exacerbation and how can it best be managed in an emergency?


Quick Answer

Asthma exacerbation is an asthma attack, a condition that causes difficulty breathing due to inflammation, swelling and muscle contractions in the airways, as Mayo Clinic explains. Emergency treatment includes the use of short-acting beta agonists, oral corticosteroids, ipratropium, intubation and mechanical ventilation.

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What is asthma exacerbation and how can it best be managed in an emergency?
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Full Answer

Asthma attacks that occur at home are treated with 2.5 to 5 milligrams of albuterol every 20 minutes for one hour, according to Mayo Clinic. An attack that does not respond to albuterol may require immediate medical care. The symptoms of an asthma attack include shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, coughing, wheezing and low expiratory flow readings.

Asthma exacerbation is caused by an immune response to certain triggers, which include pollen, pets, mold, dust mites and tobacco smoke, according to Mayo Clinic. Other triggers include upper respiratory infections, exercise, cold or dry air, and gastroesophageal-reflux disease. Risk factors include a history of asthma, previous episodes of exacerbation, chronic health problems and the use of more than two rescue inhalers per month.

Asthma attacks can significantly affect an individual's quality of life because patients with severe asthma typically require numerous hospital visits, according to Mayo Clinic. A severe attack may cause respiratory arrest and death. Asthma exacerbation prevention includes asthma control with prescribed medications, lung function monitoring and the avoidance of triggers.

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