Symptoms of asthma attack may not resolve or reduce with the use of quick-relief inhalers. The signs and symptoms of an asthma attack differs, and identifying the same for a person is important to plan the treatment.
If the symptoms do not resolve with the treatment plan, the person may require a visit to the emergency room to avoid complications.
Characteristics of asthma may change over a period of time. One needs to adjust the treatment plan accordingly to keep symptoms under control.
The test also help to assess the severity of the asthma attack and to plan the treatment strategy.
Peak flow test measures the peak expiratory flow during exhalation. In this procedure, the person is asked to blow hard into the mouthpiece during a single breath.
Spirometry is a procedure in which the patient is asked to exhale forcefully into the spirometer to measure the volume exhaled in one second. It evaluates the amount of air lungs can hold during inhalation and exhalation.
Nitric oxide measurement is another diagnostic test which measures the amount of nitric oxide in the breath. Inflammation of the airways is characterized by high levels of nitric oxide.
Pulse oximetry measures the amount of oxygen in blood. It is suggested during severe asthma attacks.
Nebulizers are suggested in place of inhalers for small children. For severe asthma attack, immediately after quick-acting inhalers, the patient should be taken to the doctor for medical attention.
The quick-relief medication is usually repeated every 3-4 hours for a day or two. Oral corticosteroids are also suggested during this period.
In the emergency room, during severe asthma attacks, short-acting beta agonists are given through a nebulizer for immediate effect. Oral corticosteroids are also given to reduce inflammation of the airways.
Corticosteroids may be given intravenously, if the symptoms are severe. Ipratropium is also given as a bronchodilator in severe asthma attacks. For potentially life-threatening symptoms, a breathing tube may be inserted into the upper part of the airway.
Mechanical ventilation help in breathing and to provide enough oxygen into the circulation. Once the symptoms are under control, the patient is retained in the emergency room for few hours to rule out chances of another asthma attack.
If the symptoms do not respond with emergency treatment, medications are repeated every few hours. Oxygen is supplemented through a mask to avoid oxygen deficiency in blood.
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