Status Asthmaticus

Status Asthmaticus is a medical term for a very severe and dangerous condition, which is normally caused by infections or the sudden removal of suppressive medication, such as oral steroids. The state is usually only reached after several days of ever-increasing symptoms. During this time, you will have eaten poorly.
You will also have not taken sufficient liquids to compensate for the water lost during your increased breathing pattern and that used to produce mucus. This results in dehydration. The upper chest muscles you are now using for breathing are only intended to be used for short time periods so they become very tired after a day or so.

Mucus becomes very sticky and plugs your airways. Because of all the mucus and despite the increased breathing rate it is more difficult for oxygen to get into the blood stream and your body can no longer get rid of excess carbon dioxide. The body produces lactic acid in increased quantities and this adds to the feeling of exhaustion.

The only thing that will help the asthmatic in this state is emergency care. Once your reliever medication no longer gives you relief, it’s usual to seek help at once.

At first both oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are reasonably normal. As breathing rates increase, the asthmatic develops breathing difficulties and both carbon dioxide and oxygen levels start to fall. The pH of arterial blood becomes more alkaline with the decreases in carbon dioxide. As mucus fills the lungs, gas exchange becomes difficult. Oxygen levels drop further and carbon dioxide builds up. The pH in arterial blood becomes less alkaline than normal. Airway narrowing and plugging becomes severe, resulting in Status Asthmaticus.