Acute Severe Asthma in Children

  • Barbara P. Yawn
Part of the Allergy Frontiers book series (ALLERGY, volume 5)

“Acute asthma” is often used to describe an asthma exacerbation or asthma attack. Whatever term is chosen these are episodes of rapid onset and progressive worsening of breathlessness, wheezing, cough, and chest tightness, individually or in combination. Expiratory airflow as measured by spirometry (FEV1) or peak expiratory flow (PEF) decreases. Inflammatory cell influx into the lung assessed by sputum eosinophils and exhaled nitrous oxide increases [1–4]. In more severe attacks blood oxygenation levels measured by pulse oximetery or arterial blood gases will also fall [5, 6].

Acute asthma or an asthma exacerbation is not the same as loss of asthma control. The exacerbation is usually of rapid onset and progressive while loss of control is more gradual and often does not continue to progress [7–9]. Severe acute asthma can occur in children with good or poor control. The striking lack of PEF variation during exacerbations, as compared to increased variability usually seen with poor asthma control, suggests there may be differences in the beta -adrenoceptor function between these conditions [7].


Severe Asthma Allergy Clin Immunol Respir Crit Peak Expiratory Flow Asthma Exacerbation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Minnesota; Olmsted Medical CenterUSA

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