Respiratory health Data Verified

Status Asthmaticus - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Nov 09, 2022   -  4 min read


Status asthmaticus occurs due to severe asthma attacks. Read the article below to learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of asthmaticus.


The condition in which the asthmatic condition becomes exacerbated is called status asthmaticus. This medical condition lasts for a few minutes to hours. It is more commonly seen in males than females. The most commonly affected age group is teenage. People living in polluted environments are more likely to get asthma attacks. Also, people in remote rural areas do not have access to health care. Their risk rate is high due to uncontrolled asthma attacks.

What Are the Causes of Status Asthmaticus?

The sources which cause status asthmaticus are as follows;

What Are the Symptoms of Status Asthmaticus?

The symptoms of asthmaticus are similar to asthma. They are as follows;

  • Breathing Trouble - The patient affected by asthmaticus gasps for breath. The breath is short and shallow. The patient has difficulty during inspiration and expiration.

  • Wheezing - The triggering agents irritate the lining of the upper respiratory tract and cause wheezing.

  • Coughing - The cough reflex arises to expel the irritants away from the airways.

  • Increased Sweating - The patient with sudden and severe asthma attacks becomes anxious, and there is heavy sweating.

  • Difficulty in Speech - The patient with status asthmaticus struggles to speak during exacerbation.

  • Fatigue - The patient with severe asthma attacks becomes exhausted after physical activity. They appear weak and lose energy due to a lack of oxygen supply.

  • Muscle Pain - Severe exacerbation eventually causes pain in the abdomen, neck, and back muscles.

  • Confusion - The individual who is prone to asthma attacks remains confused most of the time. It is due to the oxygen demand for the brain. It also leads to panic attacks.

  • Discolored Skin - Due to reduced oxygen in the blood, the color of the skin and mucosa present in the lips show a blue tint.

  • Unconscious - The continuous asthma attacks make the patient lose consciousness.

How Is Status Asthmaticus Diagnosed?

The following methods diagnose severe uncontrolled asthma attacks:

  • Chest X-Rays - Lung and the airways are commonly affected due to status asthmaticus. So the condition of these structures is observed using the radiographic image. The X-ray covers all the organs like blood vessels, heart, and lungs present in the chest area. The complication of asthmaticus, like pneumonia, can be detected using X-rays. The severity of asthmatic attacks can also be determined with X-rays.

  • Electrocardiogram - An electrocardiogram is necessary to determine the condition of the heart. Because the patient has an increased heart rate during severe asthmatic attacks, it is monitored using an electrocardiogram. The heart tries to compensate for the oxygen demand due to status asthmaticus. In such conditions electrocardiogram is used to evaluate the heart valves.

  • Lung Function Test - The lung function test evaluates the gaseous exchange between the lungs and blood. It analyses the oxygen and carbon dioxide level. The lung function test is particularly used to measure expired air. It helps to determine the lung damage caused due to severe asthmatic attacks. It is calculated using a peak flow meter. It is also used to identify the source that triggers the status asthmaticus. A lung function test evaluates the total count of breaths taken in a minute. With the help of this test, the medical professional will determine the mode of treatment.

What Are Treatment Methods for Status Asthmaticus?

  • Inhalers - The narrowing of airways is controlled with the help of bronchodilators. The medical professional usually prescribes inhalational bronchodilators. The commonly used drugs to treat status are Albuterol and Levalbuterol. It helps in the opening of the bronchi and improves the breathing process. Ipratropium bromide is also used to treat asthmaticus. Corticosteroids can reduce the inflammation produced by the triggering agents. Fluticasone is a commonly used inhalational steroid. It has relatively fewer side effects than oral drugs.

  • Medications - Montelukast is given through the oral route to control the symptoms of asthmatic attacks. Theophylline oral drug is also helpful in keeping the airways open. Epinephrine shot is given to the patient with an increased risk of allergy. It lowers the risk of asthmatic attacks.

  • Mechanical Ventilation - Artificial oxygen supply is necessary for uncontrolled severe asthmatic attacks. It is delivered to the patient using a facemask. However, it is a transient condition, and ventilators can be used to manage the condition temporarily. It is used for patients with acute exacerbation and respiratory failure. It is used along with the therapeutic management of status asthmaticus.

What Are the Instructions to Follow for Patients With Status Asthmaticus?

  • Do not stop the medications without the knowledge of the medical professional.

  • Individuals who are prone to asthma must protect themselves from triggering sources.

  • The individual must ensure to take an extra inhaler and extra medications to use during an emergency and travel.

  • Annual health checkups and regular monitoring of respiratory symptoms are vital to prevent severe asthmatic attacks.

  • Follow the treatment plan as per the instructions given by the medical professional.


If status asthmaticus is not managed during the early stages of life, it could lead to respiratory failure. To avoid life-threatening conditions like lung collapse and pneumonia, consult a physician. Patients with regular asthma are prone to status asthmaticus, which is difficult to prevent. However, the risk factors can be reduced by taking the necessary measures. The close acquaintance of the patient with the status asthmaticus must be aware of the symptoms. So that the condition is noticed earlier and the patient is taken to the hospital at the right time.

Last reviewed at:
09 Nov 2022  -  4 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Montelukast - Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Drug Warnings, and Precautions

Article Overview: Montelukast is a leukotriene inhibitor, which is used for treating asthma attacks in adults and children. Learn about its uses, dosage, drug warnings, side effects, precautions, drug interactions, and more. Read Article

Penchilaprasad Kandikattu
Penchilaprasad Kandikattu
Internal Medicine

Overview: Montelukast was introduced in 1990, and it was approved for clinical use by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) with the brand name Singulair. This drug belongs to the class leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA). Leukotrienes are chemical substances that the body releases when inhaling...  Read Article

Drug Combinations That Reduce the Risk of Asthma

Article Overview: The drug combination therapy has proven to be effective in reducing the risk of asthma as compared to other individual drugs. Read the article below to know. Read Article

Kaushal Bhavsar
Kaushal Bhavsar
Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

Introduction: Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by hyperresponsiveness of the tracheobronchial smooth muscle to various stimuli causing narrowing of the airways and increased secretion, mucosal edema, and mucus plugging. This makes it difficult for the air to flow easi...  Read Article

Asthma Inhalers - Types and Side Effects

Article Overview: An asthma inhaler is a device that delivers medicines to the lungs and helps the patient breathe normally. Read the article to learn about it in detail. Read Article

Kaushal Bhavsar
Kaushal Bhavsar
Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

What Is the Meaning of an Asthma Inhaler? Asthma is a condition in which the patient experiences respiratory difficulties because the airways become narrow due to swelling. The patient presents with shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. Sometimes, the situation becomes so severe that it become...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Asthma or Status Asthmaticus?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.