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Asthma in Children

Asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition causing intermittent airway obstruction Airway obstruction Airway obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the airways that impedes airflow. An airway obstruction can be classified as upper, central, or lower depending on location. Lower airway obstruction (LAO) is usually a manifestation of chronic disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Airway Obstruction, wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing, cough, and dyspnea Dyspnea Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea. Genetics Genetics Genetics is the study of genes and their functions and behaviors. Basic Terms of Genetics and environmental factors play a significant role in etiology. A diagnosis of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma in children often involves careful history taking, physical examination, pulmonary function tests, and radiologic studies to rule out other conditions. The goal is to minimize symptoms, exacerbations, and functional as well as psychological morbidity Morbidity The proportion of patients with a particular disease during a given year per given unit of population. Measures of Health Status. Treatment also involves relief and chronic pharmacotherapy.

Last updated: Aug 3, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Introduction and Epidemiology

Definition

Asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma is defined as the episodic obstruction of lung airways resulting from a chronic inflammatory condition.

Classification

  • Based on natural course:
    • Recurrent wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing: caused by viral infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease; usually resolves before patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship are school-aged
    • Chronic asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma: allergy Allergy An abnormal adaptive immune response that may or may not involve antigen-specific IgE Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction associated; usually persists into adulthood 
    • Asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma with declining lung function: associated with hyperinflation Hyperinflation Imaging of the Lungs and Pleura in childhood and male sex Sex The totality of characteristics of reproductive structure, functions, phenotype, and genotype, differentiating the male from the female organism. Gender Dysphoria
  • Based on disease severity while not on asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma medication (see Table 1):
    • Intermittent
    • Persistent:
      • Mild
      • Moderate
      • Severe
  • Based on response to treatment (see Table 2):
    • Well controlled
    • Not well controlled
    • Very poorly controlled

Epidemiology

  • The most common chronic disease in childhood in developed countries
  • Prevalence Prevalence The total number of cases of a given disease in a specified population at a designated time. It is differentiated from incidence, which refers to the number of new cases in the population at a given time. Measures of Disease Frequency in the US (017 years): approximately 9%
  • Among the most common causes of childhood emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and missed school days
  • 80% of all asthmatic patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship report disease onset prior to 6 years of age, but only a minority have persistent asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma later in life.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

Etiology

  • A combination of genetic and environmental factors cause asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma
  • Genetic factors: > 100 gene Gene A category of nucleic acid sequences that function as units of heredity and which code for the basic instructions for the development, reproduction, and maintenance of organisms. Basic Terms of Genetics associations (no monogenicity)
  • Environmental factors associated with asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma
    • Recurrent childhood wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing: common respiratory viruses Viruses Minute infectious agents whose genomes are composed of DNA or RNA, but not both. They are characterized by a lack of independent metabolism and the inability to replicate outside living host cells. Virology such as rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology, adenovirus Adenovirus Adenovirus (member of the family Adenoviridae) is a nonenveloped, double-stranded DNA virus. Adenovirus is transmitted in a variety of ways, and it can have various presentations based on the site of entry. Presentation can include febrile pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, acute respiratory disease, atypical pneumonia, and gastroenteritis. Adenovirus, influenza Influenza Influenza viruses are members of the Orthomyxoviridae family and the causative organisms of influenza, a highly contagious febrile respiratory disease. There are 3 primary influenza viruses (A, B, and C) and various subtypes, which are classified based on their virulent surface antigens, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Influenza typically presents with a fever, myalgia, headache, and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Influenza Viruses/Influenza virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology, parainfluenza virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology, and human metapneumovirus Human Metapneumovirus Acute Bronchiolitis
    • Home allergens can initiate airway Airway ABCDE Assessment inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation in susceptible children.
  • Early childhood risk factors for persistent asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma:
    • Asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma in parents
    • Allergy Allergy An abnormal adaptive immune response that may or may not involve antigen-specific IgE Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction including atopic dermatitis Dermatitis Any inflammation of the skin. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), allergic rhinitis Rhinitis Inflammation of the nasal mucosa, the mucous membrane lining the nasal cavities. Rhinitis, and food allergy Allergy An abnormal adaptive immune response that may or may not involve antigen-specific IgE Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction
    • Severe lower respiratory tract infection such as pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia or bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis Inflammation of the bronchioles. Pediatric Chest Abnormalities
    • Wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing (not as a result of colds)
    • Male sex Sex The totality of characteristics of reproductive structure, functions, phenotype, and genotype, differentiating the male from the female organism. Gender Dysphoria
    • Low birth weight 
    • Passive tobacco smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases
  • Asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma triggers Triggers Hereditary Angioedema (C1 Esterase Inhibitor Deficiency)
    • Allergens: 
      • Dust mites Mites Any arthropod of the subclass acari except the ticks. They are minute animals related to the spiders, usually having transparent or semitransparent bodies. They may be parasitic on humans and domestic animals, producing various irritations of the skin (mite infestations). Many mite species are important to human and veterinary medicine as both parasite and vector. Mites also infest plants. Scabies
      • Animal dander
      • Molds
      • Cockroaches
      • Seasonal pollens
      • Seasonal molds
    • Air pollutants:
      • Environmental tobacco smoke
      • Ozone
      • Nitrogen Nitrogen An element with the atomic symbol n, atomic number 7, and atomic weight [14. 00643; 14. 00728]. Nitrogen exists as a diatomic gas and makes up about 78% of the earth’s atmosphere by volume. It is a constituent of proteins and nucleic acids and found in all living cells. Urea Cycle dioxide
      • Dust
      • Sulfur dioxide
    • Strong odors such as perfumes
    • Occupational/lifestyle exposures:
      • Farms and barns
      • Paint fumes
      • Cold, dry air
      • Physical exercise
      • Emotional stress
      • Hyperventilation Hyperventilation A pulmonary ventilation rate faster than is metabolically necessary for the exchange of gases. It is the result of an increased frequency of breathing, an increased tidal volume, or a combination of both. It causes an excess intake of oxygen and the blowing off of carbon dioxide. Respiratory Alkalosis
    • Comorbid conditions:
      • Rhinitis Rhinitis Inflammation of the nasal mucosa, the mucous membrane lining the nasal cavities. Rhinitis
      • Sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the mucosal lining of the paranasal sinuses. The condition usually occurs concurrently with inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis), a condition known as rhinosinusitis. Acute sinusitis is due to an upper respiratory infection caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal agent. Sinusitis
      • Gastroesophageal reflux
    • Drugs:
      • Beta blockers
      • Aspirin Aspirin The prototypical analgesic used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. It has anti-inflammatory and antipyretic properties and acts as an inhibitor of cyclooxygenase which results in the inhibition of the biosynthesis of prostaglandins. Aspirin also inhibits platelet aggregation and is used in the prevention of arterial and venous thrombosis. Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Pathophysiology

  • Complex interactions between the following 2 components lead to airway obstruction Airway obstruction Airway obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the airways that impedes airflow. An airway obstruction can be classified as upper, central, or lower depending on location. Lower airway obstruction (LAO) is usually a manifestation of chronic disease, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Airway Obstruction:  
    • Increased smooth muscle tone Muscle tone The state of activity or tension of a muscle beyond that related to its physical properties, that is, its active resistance to stretch. In skeletal muscle, tonus is dependent upon efferent innervation. Skeletal Muscle Contraction
    • Airway Airway ABCDE Assessment inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation, edema Edema Edema is a condition in which excess serous fluid accumulates in the body cavity or interstitial space of connective tissues. Edema is a symptom observed in several medical conditions. It can be categorized into 2 types, namely, peripheral (in the extremities) and internal (in an organ or body cavity). Edema and exudate Exudate Exudates are fluids, cells, or other cellular substances that are slowly discharged from blood vessels usually from inflamed tissues. Pleural Effusion with eosinophils Eosinophils Granular leukocytes with a nucleus that usually has two lobes connected by a slender thread of chromatin, and cytoplasm containing coarse, round granules that are uniform in size and stainable by eosin. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation and other inflammatory cells such as neutrophils Neutrophils Granular leukocytes having a nucleus with three to five lobes connected by slender threads of chromatin, and cytoplasm containing fine inconspicuous granules and stainable by neutral dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation, monocytes Monocytes Large, phagocytic mononuclear leukocytes produced in the vertebrate bone marrow and released into the blood; contain a large, oval or somewhat indented nucleus surrounded by voluminous cytoplasm and numerous organelles. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation, lymphocytes Lymphocytes Lymphocytes are heterogeneous WBCs involved in immune response. Lymphocytes develop from the bone marrow, starting from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progressing to common lymphoid progenitors (CLPs). B and T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells arise from the lineage. Lymphocytes: Histology, mast cells Mast cells Granulated cells that are found in almost all tissues, most abundantly in the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Like the basophils, mast cells contain large amounts of histamine and heparin. Unlike basophils, mast cells normally remain in the tissues and do not circulate in the blood. Mast cells, derived from the bone marrow stem cells, are regulated by the stem cell factor. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation, and basophils Basophils Granular leukocytes characterized by a relatively pale-staining, lobate nucleus and cytoplasm containing coarse dark-staining granules of variable size and stainable by basic dyes. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation
  • Inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation is mediated by helper T cells T cells Lymphocytes responsible for cell-mediated immunity. Two types have been identified – cytotoxic (t-lymphocytes, cytotoxic) and helper T-lymphocytes (t-lymphocytes, helper-inducer). They are formed when lymphocytes circulate through the thymus gland and differentiate to thymocytes. When exposed to an antigen, they divide rapidly and produce large numbers of new T cells sensitized to that antigen. T cells: Types and Functions that produce proinflammatory cytokines Proinflammatory Cytokines Metabolic Syndrome (interleukin 4 [IL-4], IL-5, and IL-13) and chemokines Chemokines Class of pro-inflammatory cytokines that have the ability to attract and activate leukocytes. They can be divided into at least three structural branches: c; cc; and cxc; according to variations in a shared cysteine motif. Adaptive Cell-mediated Immunity.
  • Exposure to triggers Triggers Hereditary Angioedema (C1 Esterase Inhibitor Deficiency) and lack of appropriate therapy further induces a combination of the following (see image below)
    • Inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation
    • Airway Airway ABCDE Assessment hypersensitivity response
    • Basement membrane Basement membrane A darkly stained mat-like extracellular matrix (ecm) that separates cell layers, such as epithelium from endothelium or a layer of connective tissue. The ecm layer that supports an overlying epithelium or endothelium is called basal lamina. Basement membrane (bm) can be formed by the fusion of either two adjacent basal laminae or a basal lamina with an adjacent reticular lamina of connective tissue. Bm, composed mainly of type IV collagen; glycoprotein laminin; and proteoglycan, provides barriers as well as channels between interacting cell layers. Thin Basement Membrane Nephropathy (TBMN) thickening
    • Subepithelial Subepithelial Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis collagen Collagen A polypeptide substance comprising about one third of the total protein in mammalian organisms. It is the main constituent of skin; connective tissue; and the organic substance of bones (bone and bones) and teeth (tooth). Connective Tissue: Histology deposition and fibrosis Fibrosis Any pathological condition where fibrous connective tissue invades any organ, usually as a consequence of inflammation or other injury. Bronchiolitis Obliterans
    • Smooth muscle hypertrophy Hypertrophy General increase in bulk of a part or organ due to cell enlargement and accumulation of fluids and secretions, not due to tumor formation, nor to an increase in the number of cells (hyperplasia). Cellular Adaptation
    • Mucus hypersecretion
Remodelling and pathological changes noted in asthma

Remodeling and pathological changes noted in asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma.

Image by Lecturio.

Clinical Presentation

History of chronic asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma

  • Most common symptoms: intermittent dry coughing and expiratory wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing
  • Other symptoms: 
    • Shortness of breath Shortness of breath Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea
    • Chest tightness
    • Chest pain Pain An unpleasant sensation induced by noxious stimuli which are detected by nerve endings of nociceptive neurons. Pain: Types and Pathways 
    • Self-imposed activity restrictions
    • General fatigue Fatigue The state of weariness following a period of exertion, mental or physical, characterized by a decreased capacity for work and reduced efficiency to respond to stimuli. Fibromyalgia (possibly from poor sleep Sleep A readily reversible suspension of sensorimotor interaction with the environment, usually associated with recumbency and immobility. Physiology of Sleep)
    • Limited physical activity
    • Worsening of symptoms at night or with triggers Triggers Hereditary Angioedema (C1 Esterase Inhibitor Deficiency) (see above)
    • Improvement of symptoms with asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma medications
    • Atopic dermatitis Dermatitis Any inflammation of the skin. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Physical signs during exacerbations of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma

  • Prolonged expiration Expiration Ventilation: Mechanics of Breathing with wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing
  • Decreased peripheral breath sounds
  • Rhonchi Rhonchi Asthma or occasional crackles may be heard due to excess mucus production
  • Segmental crackles + decreased breath sounds may indicate asthma-induced atelectasis Atelectasis Atelectasis is the partial or complete collapse of a part of the lung. Atelectasis is almost always a secondary phenomenon from conditions causing bronchial obstruction, external compression, surfactant deficiency, or scarring. Atelectasis or lobar pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia
  • Peak expiratory flow Flow Blood flows through the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins in a closed, continuous circuit. Flow is the movement of volume per unit of time. Flow is affected by the pressure gradient and the resistance fluid encounters between 2 points. Vascular resistance is the opposition to flow, which is caused primarily by blood friction against vessel walls. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure in mild to moderate cases > 40%–70%
  • Severe exacerbations:
    • Respiratory distress
    • Suprasternal and intercostal retractions and nasal flaring
    • Expiratory and inspiratory wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing
    • Markedly decreased breath sounds
    • Peak expiratory flow Flow Blood flows through the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins in a closed, continuous circuit. Flow is the movement of volume per unit of time. Flow is affected by the pressure gradient and the resistance fluid encounters between 2 points. Vascular resistance is the opposition to flow, which is caused primarily by blood friction against vessel walls. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure < 40%
  • Signs of imminent respiratory arrest:
    • Drowsiness or confusion
    • Paradoxical thoracoabdominal movement
    • Bradycardia Bradycardia Bradyarrhythmia is a rhythm in which the heart rate is less than 60/min. Bradyarrhythmia can be physiologic, without symptoms or hemodynamic change. Pathologic bradyarrhythmia results in reduced cardiac output and hemodynamic instability causing syncope, dizziness, or dyspnea. Bradyarrhythmias
    • Absent wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing
    • Peak expiratory flow Flow Blood flows through the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins in a closed, continuous circuit. Flow is the movement of volume per unit of time. Flow is affected by the pressure gradient and the resistance fluid encounters between 2 points. Vascular resistance is the opposition to flow, which is caused primarily by blood friction against vessel walls. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure < 25% (may not be required for evaluation)

Diagnosis

  • A diagnosis of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma in children often involves a combination of careful history taking, physical examination, pulmonary function tests (usually feasible in children > 6 years), and radiologic studies to rule out other conditions. 
  • Spirometry Spirometry Measurement of volume of air inhaled or exhaled by the lung. Pulmonary Function Tests findings consistent with asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma
    • Low forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) relative to predicted norms
    • FEV1:FVC (forced vital capacity Vital capacity The volume of air that is exhaled by a maximal expiration following a maximal inspiration. Ventilation: Mechanics of Breathing) < 0.80
  • Main laboratory criteria consistent with asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma:
    • Reversibility in FEV1 with inhaled beta agonists by ≥ 12% or ≥ 200 mL
    • Worsening in FEV1 with exercise by ≥ 15%
    • Variation in peak flow Flow Blood flows through the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins in a closed, continuous circuit. Flow is the movement of volume per unit of time. Flow is affected by the pressure gradient and the resistance fluid encounters between 2 points. Vascular resistance is the opposition to flow, which is caused primarily by blood friction against vessel walls. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure (see Image 3) or FEV1 from day to day or AM to PM by ≥ 20% 
  • Chest X-ray Chest X-ray X-ray visualization of the chest and organs of the thoracic cavity. It is not restricted to visualization of the lungs. Pulmonary Function Tests
    • Typically normal in asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma
    • May show hyperinflation Hyperinflation Imaging of the Lungs and Pleura with flattening of the diaphragms during exacerbations or severe chronic asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma
    • Helps rule out other diagnoses such as aspiration pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia
    • Helps investigate complications such as atelectasis Atelectasis Atelectasis is the partial or complete collapse of a part of the lung. Atelectasis is almost always a secondary phenomenon from conditions causing bronchial obstruction, external compression, surfactant deficiency, or scarring. Atelectasis and pneumothorax Pneumothorax A pneumothorax is a life-threatening condition in which air collects in the pleural space, causing partial or full collapse of the lung. A pneumothorax can be traumatic or spontaneous. Patients present with a sudden onset of sharp chest pain, dyspnea, and diminished breath sounds on exam. Pneumothorax during asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma exacerbations
  • Chest computed tomography Chest Computed Tomography Hemothorax scan: further delineates comorbidities Comorbidities The presence of co-existing or additional diseases with reference to an initial diagnosis or with reference to the index condition that is the subject of study. Comorbidity may affect the ability of affected individuals to function and also their survival; it may be used as a prognostic indicator for length of hospital stay, cost factors, and outcome or survival. St. Louis Encephalitis Virus, differential diagnosis, and complications
  • Skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions prick testing for allergen sensitization
  • Genetic testing Genetic Testing Detection of a mutation; genotype; karyotype; or specific alleles associated with genetic traits, heritable diseases, or predisposition to a disease, or that may lead to the disease in descendants. It includes prenatal genetic testing. Myotonic Dystrophies: only for exclusion of monogenic obstructive lung diseases that could be misdiagnosed as asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma ( cystic fibrosis Cystic fibrosis Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the gene CFTR. The mutations lead to dysfunction of chloride channels, which results in hyperviscous mucus and the accumulation of secretions. Common presentations include chronic respiratory infections, failure to thrive, and pancreatic insufficiency. Cystic Fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), also known as immotile-cilia syndrome, is an autosomal recessive disorder leading to an impairment that affects mucociliary clearance. Primary ciliary dyskinesia is caused by defective ciliary function in the airways and is characterized by the loss of oscillation (immotility), abnormal oscillation (dyskinesia), or absence of cilia (aplasia). Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia), especially in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with recurrent bronchitis and/or chronic productive cough

Management

The goal of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma management is to prevent/minimize symptoms, exacerbations, and functional and psychological morbidity Morbidity The proportion of patients with a particular disease during a given year per given unit of population. Measures of Health Status to provide a healthy lifestyle appropriate for the age of the child.

The management of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma has 4 components:

  1. Continued assessment and monitoring (initially every 2–6 weeks, later every 1–6 months) made through an assessment of impairment and risk:
    • Impairment: frequency and intensity of symptoms and resulting functional limitations Limitations Conflict of Interest
    • Risk: likelihood of exacerbations, adverse events from medication, and long-term deterioration of lung function
  2. Education for self-management (includes exploiting nurses, pharmacists, clinics, schools, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC)., in the education process):
    • Helping patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship recognize their own level of control and signs of disease progression by peak-flow and/or symptom monitoring
    • Educating patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship on environmental control, avoiding triggers Triggers Hereditary Angioedema (C1 Esterase Inhibitor Deficiency) and tobacco smoke, correct use of and adherence to medications, and difference between long-term and quick-relief medications
  3. Identification Identification Defense Mechanisms and management of precipitating factors and comorbidities Comorbidities The presence of co-existing or additional diseases with reference to an initial diagnosis or with reference to the index condition that is the subject of study. Comorbidity may affect the ability of affected individuals to function and also their survival; it may be used as a prognostic indicator for length of hospital stay, cost factors, and outcome or survival. St. Louis Encephalitis Virus:
    • Identifying allergens through skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Skin: Structure and Functions testing and counseling on avoidance strategies
    • Comorbidities Comorbidities The presence of co-existing or additional diseases with reference to an initial diagnosis or with reference to the index condition that is the subject of study. Comorbidity may affect the ability of affected individuals to function and also their survival; it may be used as a prognostic indicator for length of hospital stay, cost factors, and outcome or survival. St. Louis Encephalitis Virus may include bronchopulmonary aspergillosis Aspergillosis Aspergillosis is an opportunistic fungal infection caused by Aspergillus species, which are common spore-forming molds found in our environment. As Aspergillus species are opportunistic, they cause disease primarily in patients who are immunocompromised. The organs that are most commonly involved are the lungs and sinuses. Aspergillus/Aspergillosis, gastroesophageal reflux disease Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus. This backwash (acid reflux) can irritate the lining of the esophagus, causing symptoms such as retrosternal burning pain (heartburn). Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), obesity Obesity Obesity is a condition associated with excess body weight, specifically with the deposition of excessive adipose tissue. Obesity is considered a global epidemic. Major influences come from the western diet and sedentary lifestyles, but the exact mechanisms likely include a mixture of genetic and environmental factors. Obesity, obstructive sleep apnea Sleep apnea Repeated cessation of breathing for > 10 seconds during sleep and results in sleep interruption, fatigue, and daytime sleepiness. Obstructive Sleep Apnea, rhinitis Rhinitis Inflammation of the nasal mucosa, the mucous membrane lining the nasal cavities. Rhinitis, sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the mucosal lining of the paranasal sinuses. The condition usually occurs concurrently with inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis), a condition known as rhinosinusitis. Acute sinusitis is due to an upper respiratory infection caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal agent. Sinusitis, depression, stress, low vitamin D Vitamin D A vitamin that includes both cholecalciferols and ergocalciferols, which have the common effect of preventing or curing rickets in animals. It can also be viewed as a hormone since it can be formed in skin by action of ultraviolet rays upon the precursors, 7-dehydrocholesterol and ergosterol, and acts on vitamin D receptors to regulate calcium in opposition to parathyroid hormone. Fat-soluble Vitamins and their Deficiencies levels.
    • Influenza Influenza Influenza viruses are members of the Orthomyxoviridae family and the causative organisms of influenza, a highly contagious febrile respiratory disease. There are 3 primary influenza viruses (A, B, and C) and various subtypes, which are classified based on their virulent surface antigens, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Influenza typically presents with a fever, myalgia, headache, and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Influenza Viruses/Influenza vaccination Vaccination Vaccination is the administration of a substance to induce the immune system to develop protection against a disease. Unlike passive immunization, which involves the administration of pre-performed antibodies, active immunization constitutes the administration of a vaccine to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. Vaccination in all children > 6 months old with asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma
  4. Appropriate selection Selection Lymphocyte activation by a specific antigen thus triggering clonal expansion of lymphocytes already capable of mounting an immune response to the antigen. B cells: Types and Functions of medications:
    • A step-up approach in pharmacotherapy is recommended to control impairment and risk. Once controlled, a step-down approach is implemented to maintain control on the minimum amount of medication (see Table 1 and image below).
    • Before every step up: assessment of adherence, appropriate inhaler technique, and environmental control for avoidance of triggers Triggers Hereditary Angioedema (C1 Esterase Inhibitor Deficiency)/allergens
    • Inhalers are best given with a spacer device to maximize efficacy.
    • Asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma medications are used for relief and control.
    • Medications for relief:
    • Medications for control:
      • Inhaled corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis
      • Long-acting beta 2 agonists (LABA; e.g., formoterol Formoterol Asthma Drugs, salmeterol Salmeterol Asthma Drugs)
      • Theophylline Theophylline A methyl xanthine derivative from tea with diuretic, smooth muscle relaxant, bronchial dilation, cardiac and central nervous system stimulant activities. Theophylline inhibits the 3. Asthma Drugs
      • Leukotriene Leukotriene Asthma Drugs modifiers
      • Anti-immunoglobulin E ( IgE IgE An immunoglobulin associated with mast cells. Overexpression has been associated with allergic hypersensitivity. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions) antibody ( omalizumab Omalizumab An anti-ige, recombinant, humanized monoclonal antibody which specifically binds to the c epsilon3 domain of immunoglobulin e, the site of high-affinity ige receptor binding. It inhibits the binding of ige to mast cells and basophils to reduce the severity of the allergic response and is used in the management of persistent allergic asthma. Asthma Drugs)
      • IL-5 monoclonal antibodies Monoclonal antibodies Antibodies produced by a single clone of cells. Ebolavirus and Marburgvirus ( mepolizumab Mepolizumab Asthma Drugs, benralizumab Benralizumab Asthma Drugs)
      • IL-4 receptor Receptor Receptors are proteins located either on the surface of or within a cell that can bind to signaling molecules known as ligands (e.g., hormones) and cause some type of response within the cell. Receptors alpha monoclonal antibody ( dupilumab Dupilumab Asthma Drugs)
      • Inhaled cromolyn Cromolyn Asthma Drugs or nedocromil Nedocromil A pyranoquinolone derivative that inhibits activation of inflammatory cells which are associated with asthma, including eosinophils; neutrophils; macrophages; mast cells; monocytes; and platelets. Asthma Drugs (not available in the United States)
Table 1: Classification of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma based on disease severity while not on asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma medication and the recommended action for treatment
Component of severity Classification of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma severity
Intermittent Persistent
Mild Moderate Severe
Symptoms ≤ 2 days/week > 2 days/week Daily Throughout the day
SABA use ≤ 2 days/week > 2 days/week Daily Several times/day
Nighttime awakenings ≤ 2/month 3–4/month ≥ 1/week Nightly
Activity limitation None Minor Some Extreme
Lung function (only in children > 5 years)
  • Normal FEV1 between exacerbations
  • FEV1 ≥ 80%
  • FEV1/FVC > 85%
  • FEV1 60%–80%
  • FEV1/FVC > 80%
  • FEV1 60%–80%
  • FEV1/FVC 75%–80%
  • FEV1 < 60%
  • FEV1/FVC < 75%
Exacerbation requiring oral corticosteroid use 0–1 times/year ≥ 2 times/year
Recommended action for treatment Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 + medium-dose inhalded corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis (ICS) Step 3 + medium-dose ICS, or Step 4 or 5
Consider a short course of oral corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis.
In 2–6 weeks, evaluate for control and adjust dose accordingly.
Table 2: Classification of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma control
Component of control Well controlled Not well controlled Very poorly controlled
Symptoms ≤ 2 days/week > 2 days/week or multiple times on ≤ 2 days/week Throughout the day
SABA use ≤ 2 days/week > 2 days/week or multiple times on ≤ 2 days/week Several times/day
Symptoms ≤ 2 days/week > 2 days/week Throughout the day
Nighttime awakenings ≤ 1/month ≥ 2/month ≥ 2/week
Activity limitation None Some Extreme
Lung function
FEV1 > 80% 60%–80% < 60%
FEV1/FVC > 80% 75%–80% < 75%
Exacerbation requiring oral corticosteroid use 0–1/year ≥ 2/year
Management of asthma in children

Step up ladder approach in management of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma for children between 5-11. Note in children, long-acting bronchodilators Bronchodilators Asthma Drugs are not used initially and the aim is to have lower doses of inhaled corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis.

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Acute Exacerbation of Asthma

Definition

Acute exacerbation of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma is the acute or subacute progressive worsening of airway Airway ABCDE Assessment inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation and obstruction in an asthmatic patient.

General features

  • Often occurs at night, during sleep Sleep A readily reversible suspension of sensorimotor interaction with the environment, usually associated with recumbency and immobility. Physiology of Sleep
  • Decreased/absent response to SABA may result in a vicious cycle Cycle The type of signal that ends the inspiratory phase delivered by the ventilator Invasive Mechanical Ventilation of shunting and further bronchoconstriction, leading to hypoxemia Hypoxemia Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
  • Exacerbations must be immediately assessed for severity (See table 3).

Management of acute exacerbations

  • At home:
    Parents/guardians must have a written action plan and act early to prevent further worsening of symptoms:
    • Repeat SABAs 3 times in 1 hour (appropriate response: resolution of symptoms in 1 hour and PEF > 80%).
    • Contact physician if further exacerbations within 24–48 hours.
    • Use short course of oral corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis and contact physician if partial response.
    • Call 911 if any sign of severe and persistent symptoms.
    • Use of home epinephrine Epinephrine The active sympathomimetic hormone from the adrenal medulla. It stimulates both the alpha- and beta- adrenergic systems, causes systemic vasoconstriction and gastrointestinal relaxation, stimulates the heart, and dilates bronchi and cerebral vessels. Sympathomimetic Drugs autoinjectors and portable oxygen therapy may be indicated in extreme cases.
  • Emergency department:
    • Goals:
      • Correct hypoxemia Hypoxemia Neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome with oxygen therapy
      • Rapid reversal of airflow obstruction with repeated doses of SABA and early use of systemic corticosteroids Corticosteroids Chorioretinitis + SAMA (inhaled ipratropium Ipratropium A muscarinic antagonist structurally related to atropine but often considered safer and more effective for inhalation use. It is used for various bronchial disorders, in rhinitis, and as an antiarrhythmic. Anticholinergic Drugs)
      • Consider adjunctive treatments, such as intravenous magnesium Magnesium A metallic element that has the atomic symbol mg, atomic number 12, and atomic weight 24. 31. It is important for the activity of many enzymes, especially those involved in oxidative phosphorylation. Electrolytes sulfate or heliox, in severe exacerbations unresponsive to treatment.
      • Prevent recurrence by intensification of therapy ± short-term systemic corticosteroid therapy.
    • Requirements for patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with persistent severe symptoms and high-flow oxygen requirements:
    • Patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with any signs of imminent respiratory failure Respiratory failure Respiratory failure is a syndrome that develops when the respiratory system is unable to maintain oxygenation and/or ventilation. Respiratory failure may be acute or chronic and is classified as hypoxemic, hypercapnic, or a combination of the two. Respiratory Failure require endotracheal intubation Intubation Peritonsillar Abscess and admission to a pediatric intensive care unit.
Table 3: Evaluation of severity — Clinical features during exacerbations of asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma based on severity
Mild Moderate Severe Respiratory arrest imminent
Alertness Normal Usually agitated Agitated Drowsy or confused
Respiratory rate Respiratory rate The number of times an organism breathes with the lungs (respiration) per unit time, usually per minute. Pulmonary Examination (breaths/minute) Increased Increased > 30 Paradoxical thoracoabdominal movement or normal-low respiratory rate Respiratory rate The number of times an organism breathes with the lungs (respiration) per unit time, usually per minute. Pulmonary Examination
Pulse (beats/minute) < 100 100–120 >120 Bradycardia Bradycardia Bradyarrhythmia is a rhythm in which the heart rate is less than 60/min. Bradyarrhythmia can be physiologic, without symptoms or hemodynamic change. Pathologic bradyarrhythmia results in reduced cardiac output and hemodynamic instability causing syncope, dizziness, or dyspnea. Bradyarrhythmias
Wheeze End expiratory only Throughout expiration Expiration Ventilation: Mechanics of Breathing Throughout inhalation and expiration Expiration Ventilation: Mechanics of Breathing Absent
Inspiratory/expiratory ratio (normally 2:1) Inspiratory/expiratory ratio of 1:1 Inspiratory/expiratory ratio of 1:2 < 1:2 N/A
Accessory muscle use None Common Present Present, but decreasing
O2 saturation > 95% 90%–95% < 90% ± cyanosis Cyanosis A bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to an increase in the amount of deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood or a structural defect in the hemoglobin molecule. Pulmonary Examination < 90% ± cyanosis Cyanosis A bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to an increase in the amount of deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood or a structural defect in the hemoglobin molecule. Pulmonary Examination
PCO2 ( mm MM Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant condition of plasma cells (activated B lymphocytes) primarily seen in the elderly. Monoclonal proliferation of plasma cells results in cytokine-driven osteoclastic activity and excessive secretion of IgG antibodies. Multiple Myeloma Hg) < 42 < 42 < 42 < 42
Peak expiratory flow Flow Blood flows through the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins in a closed, continuous circuit. Flow is the movement of volume per unit of time. Flow is affected by the pressure gradient and the resistance fluid encounters between 2 points. Vascular resistance is the opposition to flow, which is caused primarily by blood friction against vessel walls. Vascular Resistance, Flow, and Mean Arterial Pressure ≥ 70% 40%–69% 25%–39% ≤ 25%

Differential Diagnosis

  • Rhinosinusitis: difficult to diagnose in younger children due to absence of localized sinus pressure or tenderness; may be a comorbid condition 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux: can present with intermittent cough and wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing; may be a comorbid condition
  • Younger children:
    • Recurrent aspirations
    • Tracheobronchomalacia
    • Foreign-body aspiration
    • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
    • Cystic fibrosis Cystic fibrosis Cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in the gene CFTR. The mutations lead to dysfunction of chloride channels, which results in hyperviscous mucus and the accumulation of secretions. Common presentations include chronic respiratory infections, failure to thrive, and pancreatic insufficiency. Cystic Fibrosis
    • Primary ciliary dyskinesia Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), also known as immotile-cilia syndrome, is an autosomal recessive disorder leading to an impairment that affects mucociliary clearance. Primary ciliary dyskinesia is caused by defective ciliary function in the airways and is characterized by the loss of oscillation (immotility), abnormal oscillation (dyskinesia), or absence of cilia (aplasia). Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia
  • Older children and adolescents:
    • Vocal cord dysfunction: may present with daytime wheezing Wheezing Wheezing is an abnormal breath sound characterized by a whistling noise that can be relatively high-pitched and shrill (more common) or coarse. Wheezing is produced by the movement of air through narrowed or compressed small (intrathoracic) airways. Wheezing and stridor Stridor Laryngomalacia and Tracheomalacia with coughing due to involuntary closure of vocal cords Vocal cords A pair of cone-shaped elastic mucous membrane projecting from the laryngeal wall and forming a narrow slit between them. Each contains a thickened free edge (vocal ligament) extending from the thyroid cartilage to the arytenoid cartilage, and a vocal muscle that shortens or relaxes the vocal cord to control sound production. Larynx: Anatomy; spirometry Spirometry Measurement of volume of air inhaled or exhaled by the lung. Pulmonary Function Tests and flexible rhinolaryngoscopy may confirm the diagnosis
    • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), previously called extrinsic allergic alveolitis, is an immunologically induced inflammatory disease affecting the alveoli, bronchioles, and lung parenchyma. It is caused by repeated inhalation of an inciting agent in a susceptible host that triggers first a type III (complement-mediated) hypersensitivity reaction in the acute phase and then a type IV (delayed) reaction in the subacute and chronic phases. Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis in farms or bird-owner homes
    • Parasitic infestations or tuberculosis Tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body. Approximately 30% of people around the world are infected with this pathogen, with the majority harboring a latent infection. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person with active pulmonary infection coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis more commonly in rural developing countries
    • Chronic pulmonary disease Pulmonary disease Diseases involving the respiratory system. Blastomyces/Blastomycosis, many of which may cause digital clubbing Clubbing Cardiovascular Examination (absent in asthma Asthma Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness and airflow obstruction. The disease is believed to result from the complex interaction of host and environmental factors that increase disease predisposition, with inflammation causing symptoms and structural changes. Patients typically present with wheezing, cough, and dyspnea. Asthma)

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