Medication regimens for managing acute asthma

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12 Scopus citations


Asthma exacerbation is defined as a progressive increase in symptoms of shortness of breath, cough, or wheezing sufficient to require a change in therapy. After ruling out diagnoses that mimic an asthma exacerbation, therapy should be initiated. Short-acting β2 agonists and short-acting muscarinic antagonists are effective as bronchodilators for asthma in the acute setting. Systemic corticosteroids to reduce airway inflammation continue to be the mainstay therapy for asthma exacerbations, and, unless there is a contraindication, the oral route is favored. Based on the current evidence, nebulized magnesium should not be routinely used in acute asthma. The evidence favors the use of intravenous magnesium sulfate in selected cases, particularly in severe exacerbations. Methylxanthines have a minimum role as therapy for asthma exacerbations but may be considered in refractory cases of status asthmaticus with careful monitoring of toxicity. Current guidelines recommend the use of helium-oxygen mixtures in patients who do not respond to standard therapies or those with severe disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)783-796
Number of pages14
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Asthma exacerbation
  • Asthma therapy
  • Bronchodilators
  • Severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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