II. Contraindications: Patients who require immediate medical attention (home management protocol no recommended)

  1. High risk of fatal Asthma attack
    1. See Asthma-Related Death Risk Factors
  2. Serious exacerbation signs and symptoms
    1. Significant breathlessness
    2. Unable to speak in short phrases
    3. Accessory muscle use
    4. Lethargy
    5. Peak Expiratory Flow <50%

III. Management: Step 1 - Inhaled Beta Agonist (e.g. Albuterol)

  1. Albuterol Trial
    1. Up to 2 treatments of Albuterol MDI 2-6 puffs each (with 20 minutes interval between each use) OR
    2. One treatment of Albuterol Nebulizer
  2. Reassessment after 1 hour

IV. Management: Step 2a - Good Response (Mild) with PEF>80%

  1. Signs
    1. No Wheezing, Dyspnea or Tachypnea
    2. Sustained response to Albuterol for 4 hours
  2. Home Management
    1. Albuterol 2-4 puffs q3-4 hours for 24-48 hours
    2. Inhaled Corticosteroid if already using
      1. Double dose for 7-10 days
      2. Increased dosing has variable efficacy for acute exacerbation
    3. Consider oral Corticosteroids
    4. Contact medical provider in 48 hours for further management

V. Management: Step 2b - Incomplete Response (Moderate) with PEF 50-79%

  1. Signs
    1. Persistent Wheezing
    2. Shortness of Breath
    3. Tachypnea
    4. Cough
    5. Chest Tightness
  2. Home Management
    1. Albuterol 2-4 puffs q3-4 hours for 24-48 hours
    2. Oral Corticosteroid
      1. Adult
        1. Prednisone 40-60 mg per day divided daily to twice daily for 3-10 days OR
        2. Depo-Medrol 160 mg IM for single dose
          1. Equal to Methylprednisolone 160 mg PO x8 days
          2. Effect may be delayed 48 hours
      2. Child
        1. Prednisolone
          1. Dose: 1-2 mg/kg/day to maximum 60 mg/day for 3-10 days OR
        2. Dexamethasone
          1. Dose: 0.3 to 0.6 mg/kg/day PO/IV/IM up to 15 mg for 1-2 days
          2. Keeney (2014) Pediatrics 133(3): 493-9 [PubMed]
      3. No tapering needed if use less than 2 weeks
      4. Continue course until Peak Expiratory Flow >70%
    3. Contact medical provider urgently same day for recommendations

VI. Management: Step 2c - Poor Response (Severe) with PEF <50%

  1. Signs
    1. Marked Wheezing
    2. Shortness of Breath, Cough or Chest Tightness
    3. Severe distress
    4. Inhaled Albuterol effect lasts less than 2 hours
  2. Immediate Management
    1. AlbuterolInhaler 4-6 puffs every 20 minutes prn
    2. Start oral Corticosteroids
      1. Adult: 40 to 60 mg per day divided qd to bid
      2. Child (choose one)
        1. Prednisolone 1-2 mg/kg/day to maximum 60 mg/day for 3-10 days
          1. No tapering needed if use less than 2 weeks
        2. Dexamethasone
          1. Dose: 0.3 to 0.6 mg/kg/day PO/IV/IM up to 15 mg for 1-2 days
          2. Keeney (2014) Pediatrics 133(3): 493-9 [PubMed]
    3. Pursue immediate medical care
      1. Contact doctor
      2. Proceed to Emergency Department
      3. Call 911

VII. References

  1. Pollart (2011) Am Fam Physician 84(1): 40-7 [PubMed]
  2. (1997) Management of Asthma, NIH 97-4053
  3. (1995) Global Strategy for Asthma, NIH 95-3659
  4. Stoloff (1997) Am Fam Physician 56(1):117-26 [PubMed]

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Ontology: Exacerbation of asthma (C0349790)

Concepts Finding (T033)
SnomedCT 195978009, 367110001, 281239006
Dutch exacerbatie van astma
German Exazerbation des Asthmas
Italian Esacerbazione di asma
Portuguese Exacerbação de asma
Spanish Exacerbación de asma, exacerbación de asma (trastorno), exacerbación de asma
Japanese 喘息増悪, ゼンソクゾウアク
French Exacerbation de l'asthme
English asthma with acute exacerbation, asthma with acute exacerbation (diagnosis), asthma exacerbation, exacerbation of asthma, acute exacerbation of asthma, acute asthma exacerbation, exacerbation asthma, of asthma exacerbation, asthma exacerbations, Exacerbation of asthma, Acute exacerbation of asthma, Exacerbation of asthma (disorder)
Czech Exacerbace astmatu
Hungarian Asthma exacerbatiója

Ontology: asthma plan (C1655789)

Concepts Health Care Activity (T058)
English Asthma plan, asthma plan