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What is the treatment for an asthma attack?

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With any asthma attack, you must start treatment right away -- at the first sign of symptoms -- either at home or in your doctor's office.

If your symptoms are severe and don’t go away after you follow your asthma action plan and use your medications as directed by your doctor, then call 911 and get emergency medical help. At the hospital, your treatment may include continuous use of an asthma nebulizer, and also epinephrine and corticosteroids to stop the attack.

The doctor at the hospital may also give you terbutaline shots and magnesium sulfate to help the muscles around your airways relax.

If medicines don’t help, you may need a mechanical ventilator in an intensive care unit to help you breathe. Your doctor will put a face mask on you, or insert a breathing tube into your nose or mouth to do this. These breathing aids are temporary. Your doctor will remove them once the attack ends and your lungs have recovered enough to breathe without the machine’s help.

SOURCES:

Smolley, L. and Bruce, D. New York, Random House, 1998. Breathe Right Now,

American Family Physician , 2003.

American Academy of Family Physicians: "The Crashing Asthmatic." Expert Panel report 2: guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma.

National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 1997; NIH publication no. 97-4051.

Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Part 8: advanced challenges in resuscitation: section 3: special challenges in ECC.

The American Heart Association in collaboration with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. 2000. Circulation,

UpToDate: “Management of asthma exacerbations: Emergency department and hospital-based care.”

Medscape: “Status Asthmaticus.”

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on May 21, 2019

SOURCES:

Smolley, L. and Bruce, D. New York, Random House, 1998. Breathe Right Now,

American Family Physician , 2003.

American Academy of Family Physicians: "The Crashing Asthmatic." Expert Panel report 2: guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma.

National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 1997; NIH publication no. 97-4051.

Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care. Part 8: advanced challenges in resuscitation: section 3: special challenges in ECC.

The American Heart Association in collaboration with the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation. 2000. Circulation,

UpToDate: “Management of asthma exacerbations: Emergency department and hospital-based care.”

Medscape: “Status Asthmaticus.”

Reviewed by Dan Brennan on May 21, 2019

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