Apr 1, 1976

Pharmacologic therapy of asthma

Postgraduate Medicine
E F Ellis


Asthma is treated by avoiding the precipitants of symptoms, by a trial of hyposensitization (immunotherapy) if the precipitant cannot be avoided, and principally by pharmacologic therapy. Acute attacks have been most widely treated with epinephrine, but adrenergic aerosol bronchodilators and aminophylline are being used increasingly. When an acute attack of asthma does not respond to treatment, a diagnosis of status asthmaticus should be considered and the patient treated in a hospital intensive care unit because of the potentially life-threatening sequela of respiratory failure. Periodic mild episodes of asthma usually respond to administration of an oral bronchodilator. Chronic low-grade asthma is best treated with an around-the-clock regimen of theophylline. Patients whose asthma is not under satisfactory control with conventional bronchodilators may be given a trial of cromolyn sodium. Chronic severe cases may be treated with corticosteroids, but these drugs must be skillfully administered to avoid adverse effects.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Chronic Disease
Broncholytic Effect
Corticosteroids, topical for treatment of hemorrhoids and anal fissures
Carbonic Acid Ions
Acute Disease
Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists

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