Think Twice About Nebulizers for Asthma Attacks

MDIs with spacers are as effective as nebulizers for delivering β-agonists and less likely to cause adverse effects.

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Stop ordering nebulizers to deliver β-agonists to patients older than 2 who have mild or moderate asthma exacerbations. A metered-dose inhaler (MDI) with a spacer produces the same benefits with fewer adverse effects.1

A: Based on an updated Cochrane meta-analysis of 39 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). 1

A 6-year-old girl with a history of reactive airway disease comes to your office complaining of cough and wheezing. On exam, she has mild retractions, a respiratory rate of 35 breaths/min, and an O2 saturation of 96% on room air. Her lung fields are diffusely wheezy. Her parents would like to keep her out of the hospital. How should you order her albuterol to decrease her wheezing and minimize adverse effects?

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