Acute asthma in the pediatric emergency department

Pediatr Clin North Am. 1999 Dec;46(6):1145-65. doi: 10.1016/s0031-3955(05)70179-6.


The management of children with acute asthma remains a difficult and challenging process. Although newer asthma medications are being developed, they are unlikely to have a large impact on the management of children with acute asthma. The leukotriene inhibitors are new anti-inflammatory agents for asthma and are beneficial for the treatment of patients with chronic asthma but have no therapeutic effect during the acute phase of an exacerbation. Older treatments, including the use of magnesium and heliox, have been revisited. Although some children with severe asthma may respond, these do not provide relief for most children with acute exacerbation. The new challenge for asthma care is finding ways to link children with their primary care providers so that regular asthma care can be established. The NHLBI recommends that children with asthma have regular visits with their primary care providers (e.g., four times a year). Regular care results in better adherence to medical and preventive management plans and improves the relationship between patients and physicians. Instituting an asthma action plan, which instructs families on when and how to begin therapy for an acute exacerbation, may prevent progression to a more severe condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Algorithms
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Severity of Illness Index