Acute severe asthma (also referred to in Latin as status asthmaticus, or asthmatic status) is an acute exacerbation of asthma that does not respond to standard treatments of bronchodilators (inhalers) and steroids
Symptoms include chest tightness, rapidly progressive dyspnea (shortness of breath), dry cough, use of accessory respiratory muscles, labored breathing, and extreme wheezing. It is a life-threatening episode of airway obstruction and is considered a medical emergency. Complications include cardiac and/or respiratory arrest.
It is characterized histologically by smooth muscle hypertrophy and basement membrane thickening.
An exacerbation (attack) of asthma is experienced as a worsening of asthma symptoms with breathlessness and cough (often worse at night). In acute severe asthma, breathlessness may be so severe that it is impossible to speak more than a few words (inability to complete sentences)