MANAGEMENT OF ACUTE ASTHMA
The treatment of acute attacks of asthma in patients reporting to the hospital requires close, continuous clinical assessment and repeated objective measurement of lung function. For patients with mild attacks, inhalation of a β2-receptor agonist is as effective as subcutaneous injection of epinephrine. Both of these treat-ments are more effective than intravenous administration of aminophylline (a soluble salt of theophylline). Severe attacks require treatment with oxygen, frequent or continuous adminis-tration of aerosolized albuterol, and systemic treatment with prednisone or methylprednisolone (0.5 mg/kg every 6–12 hours). Even this aggressive treatment is not invariably effective, and patients must be watched closely for signs of deterioration. General anesthesia, intubation, and mechanical ventilation of asthmatic patients cannot be undertaken lightly but may be life-saving if respiratory failure supervenes.