In people with pre-existing medical problems like heart disease or asthma, shortness of breath or wheezing often means worsening of their disease, and you should seek medical care immediately and take medications as your doctor prescribed them. In people who are otherwise healthy, shortness of breath or wheezing is often a marker of a severe condition that may be a medical emergency, please seek help immediately.
Seek immediate medical care if you have the symptoms of shortness of breath or wheezing – these could indicate a medical emergency.
If you have
albuterol inhaler 2 puffs every 4 hours as needed for wheezing
predniSONE 40 mg once a day for 3 days
For children age 17 and under
Pediatric: prednisoLONE 1 mg/kg daily for 3 days, maximum 40 mg per day
See also: Pediatrics
If you have
Seek emergency medical care
Prednisone is a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation (not the same as an anabolic steroid, like testosterone). It is a versatile and common medication used in a wide variety of diseases. One common use of prednisone is to treat the inflammation in the airways that happens with an asthma attack. Prednisone can also be used to treat severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis if used with epinephrine. Prednisone is often used in conjunction with albuterol which takes minutes to start treating the symptoms of asthma, while prednisone takes hours to work. This medication should be taken with food.
Pulse oximeter is used to measure the level of oxygen in the blood and the heart rate. This inexpensive and ingenious tool can detect low oxygen in the blood and identify heart rates that are too fast or too slow. Put the pulse oximeter on your finger to check your heart rate and oxygen level. A heart rate above 100 in an adult at rest is generally abnormal. An oxygen level below 95% is generally abnormal. Seek emergency medical attention if you are experiencing an abnormal heart rate or oxygen level, particularly if you are also having fever, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or other symptoms.
Prednisolone is a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation (not the same as an anabolic steroid, like testosterone). PrednisoLONE, more commonly used by pediatric patients, is similar to, but should not be confused with, predniSONE, more commonly used by adults. One common use of prednisolone is to treat the inflammation in the airways that happens with an asthma attack. Prednisolone can also be used to treat severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis if used with epinephrine. Prednisolone is often used in conjunction with albuterol which takes minutes to start treating the symptoms of asthma, while prednisolone takes hours to work. This medication should be taken with food.
Albuterol (generic for Ventolin) treats shortness of breath caused by bronchospasm, a sudden tightening of the muscles in the walls of the breathing passages (bronchioles). Bronchospasm can be caused by asthma, exercise, chronic bronchitis, and anaphylaxis. Albuterol inhalers deliver this medication directly to the breathing passages. Common adverse effects of treatment with inhaled albuterol include palpitations, chest pain, rapid heart rate, tremor, and nervousness. Prime the albuterol inhaler before using it for the first time, when the inhaler has not been used for more than 2 weeks, or when the inhaler has been dropped. To prime the inhaler, release 4 sprays into the air away from the face, shaking well before each spray.
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