Update on the management of status asthmaticus

P Downey, R Cox
Current Opinion in Pediatrics 1996, 8 (3): 226-33
Asthma is a common and debilitating problem in children. Its many costs to society include morbidity, hospitalization and treatment expenses, and a rising mortality rate. This paper examines recent trends in therapy for status asthmaticus. Oxygen, inhaled beta-adrenergic agonists, and corticosteroids remain the cornerstones of therapy for the child with a severe exacerbation of asthma. Ipratropium bromide provides additional bronchodilatation in the patient who does not respond to standard therapy. Theophylline may have a role in chronic outpatient management of asthma, but the data supporting the addition of this medication in acute therapy for status asthmaticus are inconclusive. Antibiotics are only indicated in children with asthma complicated by infection, such as sinusitis or pneumonia. Magnesium sulfate and heliox may have a role in helping the asthmatic child who is critically ill and for whom other interventions have failed. Mechanical ventilation has many complications. The concept of permissive hypercapnia may be important in limiting barotrauma. Prevention of exacerbations of asthma include limiting environmental exposure to allergens and tobacco, using corticosteroids, and reinforcing compliance with therapy.

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