Treating Asthma Attack
The utmost best initial treatment for an asthma attack is your inhaled beta-agonist bronchodilator (e.g., albuterol, Ventolin®, Proventil®, Maxair®, Alupent®, etc.). It works fast within 5 minutes. For it to be effective, you must inhale the medication slowly and deeply into your lungs. The usual dose is two inhalations or puffs, although for severe attacks you may obtain greater relief with 3 or 4 inhalations or puffs.
The long-acting inhaled bronchodilator, Serevent®, is not meant for this purpose.
In an attack of asthma, it is safe for you to use your bronchodilator inhaler even if you had already taken it within the past few hours. In fact, if you are not getting better after the first treatment with your inhaler, you can use it again as often as every 20 minutes over the next one hour until the distress of the acute attack lessens. If you have an electric compressor and nebulizer available, you can administer your inhaled bronchodilator as a “wet aerosol” or mist breathed over 10-15 minutes. The same medications (Proventil®, Ventolin®, albuterol, Alupent®, Bronkosol®, and Tornalate®) are given in this manner.
Many asthmatic patients who take a theophylline medication (e.g., Slophylline®, Slobid®, Uniphyl®, Theochron®, Quibron®, etc.) are tempted to take extra dose of theophylline for an acute attack of asthma. This method is less satisfactory because: a) the theophylline takes longer to begin working and b) if taken in excess amount, theophylline can sometimes cause serious side effects (if the level of theophylline rises too high in your blood).