Asthma is a respiratory condition in which the airways of the lungs (breathing passages) narrow and swell up in response to an external allergen such as dust, mites and pollen. An asthma attack constricts the airways and interferes with the normal breathing process. It affects people of all ages, but usually starts in childhood.

Wheezing is a common symptom of asthma, characterized by a high-pitched sound when you breathe. When wheezing is associated with severe shortness of breath, confusion, bluish skin or change in mental status, it is an emergency situation and requires immediate medical care. Some of the causes of severe wheezing may include exposure to certain medications, air pollution or allergens, stress and respiratory tract infections. Please call your doctor immediately for advice and rush to the emergency room for immediate treatment (remember to carry your regular asthma medications with you).

Treatment at the ED involves nebulizer treatment, oxygen therapy and IV corticosteroids. Epinephrine injections may sometimes be administered. If your condition does not get better within a few hours, you may be hospitalized for further evaluation. Severe cases may require ICU admission for close monitoring and support.