What Is Status Asthmaticus?

Status asthmaticus” is a medical term for the most severe form of an asthma attack. If it happens, you may have to go to the hospital to get it treated.

Your asthma action plan, which you’d make with your doctor, will tell you exactly what to do. It should include things like taking your medicine, avoiding your asthma triggers, keeping up with your doctor appointments, and what to do if your asthma flares up.

If you have a really bad asthma attack and your rescue inhaler or your nebulizer doesn't help, you need immediate medical care.

If you have a steroid medicine at home (such as prednisone), you can take a dose of it on your way to the emergency room.


Doctors don’t know why some people get severe asthma attacks. It may be more likely if:

  • You don’t often see your doctor, so your asthma isn’t under good control.
  • You come in contact with your asthma triggers or things you’re allergic to.
  • You don’t use your peak flow meter and asthma medicines as directed by your doctor in your asthma action plan

Can You Prevent Status Asthmaticus?

You may not be able to prevent all severe asthma attacks. But you can take steps to make them less likely.

Take your asthma medication exactly as your doctor recommends. If you’re not sure if you’re doing it right, ask your doctor or pharmacist to show you how.

Avoid your triggers (such as dust, pollen, or chemicals at work). Your doctor can help you identify all of the things that could prompt an asthma attack.

Use your peak flow meter several times a day. This will help you to know how well your lungs are working. If the meter shows a lower reading, follow your asthma action plan to start treatment right away, even if you feel OK.

Go to all of your doctor appointments. This is important to do so that you and your doctor know you’re doing well and to make sure your asthma medicines are working for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on December 20, 2017



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