What is the role of methylxanthines in the treatment of status asthmaticus?

Updated: Jun 17, 2020
  • Author: Constantine K Saadeh, MD; Chief Editor: John J Oppenheimer, MD  more...
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The role of methylxanthines, such as theophylline or aminophylline, in the treatment of severe acute asthma has been diminished since the advent of potent selective beta-agonists and their use at higher doses. [33] At therapeutic doses, methylxanthines are weaker bronchodilators than beta-agonists and have many undesirable adverse effects, such as frequent induction of nausea and vomiting. Furthermore, most studies have failed to show additional benefit when methylxanthines are administered to patients who are already receiving frequent beta-agonists and corticosteroids.

Nevertheless, several prospective, randomized, controlled studies in children with refractory status asthmaticus have reexamined the role of the methylxanthines theophylline and aminophylline and have demonstrated improvement in the clinical asthma scores when compared with placebo control.

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