Purpose of review: Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in most developed countries and control may be elusive. Deterioration in asthma control is common when patients are exposed to airway irritants, viruses, and/or when adherence to chronic anti-inflammatory medications is suboptimal. Acute asthma exacerbations are common, important reasons for presentations to emergency departments, and severe cases may result in hospitalization. Important knowledge gaps exist in what is known and what care is delivered at the bedside.
Recent findings: The literature in asthma is rapidly expanding and recent advances in the care are important to summarize. Systematic reviews, especially high-quality syntheses performed using Cochrane methods, provide the best evidence for busy clinicians to remain current. Management of asthma is based on early recognition of severe disease with aggressive therapy using multimodal interventions that focus on both bronchoconstriction and inflammatory mechanisms.
Summary: Treatment of severe acute asthma can effectively and safely reduce hospitalizations, airway interventions, and even death. Using the approach outlined herein will enable clinicians to assist patients to rapidly regain asthma control, return to normal activities, and improve their quality of life in the follow-up period.