Asked by LaDonna
Respiratory Arrest During Asthma Attack
Is it appropriate to intubate a person during an asthma attack with respiratory arrest?
First of all, allow me to say it's very rare that a person having an asthma attack will stop breathing. However, if untreated long enough, this can happen.
By definition, respiratory arrest means cessation of breathing or breathing that is very difficult and inefficient. So, if a person goes into respiratory arrest, there is no alternative but to breathe for that person. One way to do this is by bag and mask, although eventualy the person will need to be intubated and placed on a ventilator.
The ventilator actually allows the person's lungs to completely relax, at which time bronchodilators, steroids and other medicines will be used to open up the person's lungs.
Just remember that any time an asthmatic is intubated it is usually only done as a last resort and is very temporary. Basically it allows trained medical professionals time to work their magic.
Usually an asthmatic will be intubated before he goes into respiratory arrest. If a patient looks like he is pooping out, and it appears what we are doing is not working, then the doctor may make the call to intubate.
While it doesn't happen very often, I have taken care of asthmatics in this situation. Just about every one was breating fine in a day or two.