Presents as an acute or subacute episode of progressive worsening of symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and chest tightness.
Pulse rate, respiratory rate, subjective assessment of respiratory distress, accessory muscle use, and auscultation of the lung fields are key factors to assess during physical exam.
An increased airway obstruction that can be quantified objectively by peak flow measurement or FEV1 is typical in an acute exacerbation.
Early administration of bronchodilators and corticosteroids relieves airflow obstruction and helps to prevent future relapses. Severe exacerbations often require additional therapy including oxygen, magnesium, and, in some circumstances, mechanical ventilation.
Pneumonia, pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum, and respiratory failure are complications.
An asthma exacerbation is an acute or subacute episode of progressive worsening of symptoms of asthma, including shortness of breath, wheezing, cough, and chest tightness. Exacerbations are marked by decreases from baseline in objective measures of pulmonary function, such as peak expiratory flow rate and FEV1.
Professor of Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Palo Alto Health Care System
WK declares that he has no competing interests.
Dr Ware Kuschner would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Michael Ezzie and Dr Jonathan P. Parsons, the previous contributors to this monograph. ME declares that he has no competing interests. JPP is a member of Speakers Bureaus for GlaxoSmithKline, Inc.; Schering-Plough, Inc.; and AstraZeneca, Inc.
Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
University of Vermont
AD declares that she has no competing interests.
Professor of Respiratory Medicine
Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation
University of Glasgow
NCT declares that he has no competing interests.
Consultant Chest Physician
Chest Clinic C
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
GPC declares that he has no competing interests.
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