[Acute severe asthma in older adults]

G Schultze-Werninghaus, H W Duchna, K Rasche, M Orth
Der Internist 2004, 45 (5): 518-26
The underlying causes of acute severe or life threatening asthma are infections with respiratory viruses or Mycoplasma pneumoniae, rather than bacterial infections. In addition, exposure to various agents such as allergens, non-specific irritants or drugs, and inadequate long-term treatment may be responsible. High flow oxygen therapy, high dose topic beta(2)-agonists and systemic glucocorticosteroids should be used as baseline therapy in outpatients. In hospital, intravenous therapy-eventually including sedatives-can be administered under controlled or intensive care conditions. In patients with increasing respiratory pump weakness and alveolar hypoventilation, non-invasive and/or invasive mechanical ventilation may be required. In ventilated asthma patients permissive hypercarbia has been shown to reduce complications such as pneumothorax. Bronchoscopy and bronchial lavage are recommended for patients ventilated with increasing pressures or when atelectasis occurs.

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