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Bronchodilators and other medications for the treatment of wheeze-associated illnesses in young children.
[Unpublished] 1993. , [iv], 37 p. (WHO/ARI/93.29)The World Health Organization's (WHO) Programme for the Control of Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) reviewed the literature to provide this background paper on available drugs for the treatment of wheeze, the common causes of wheeze, and the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of asthma and bronchiolitis. It focuses on children in countries with a high infant mortality rate and where bacterial pneumonia is a major public health problem. When health providers manage wheeze in children, they must consider the fact that bacterial pneumonia is the leading cause of respiratory death in young children in developing countries. Even health providers in developed countries should consider bacterial pneumonia as the cause of wheeze. These providers tend to associate viral infections with wheeze. Many children with an ARI have combined viral and bacterial infections. About 50% of outpatient cases with confirmed Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteremic pneumonia have wheeze. The first bronchodilator physicians should use to manage acute episodes of wheeze is a beta-2 adrenergic agent, e.g., salbutamol. Financial limitations will restrain the likelihood of long-term preventive therapy of acute episodes of wheeze caused by asthma. The best prophylactic options for asthma-related recurrent wheeze are sodium cromoglycate and inhaled corticosteroids. The leading therapeutic drugs for treating acute asthma include an inhaled beta-2 adrenergic agent with oral corticosteroids if needed. This treatment will achieve bronchodilatation and reversal of the airway narrowing caused by mucosal edema, by mucus hypersecretion, and by smooth muscle spasm. Long-term beta agonist therapy alone will not reduce airway inflammation. Allergen avoidance can also protect against recurrent wheeze in some cases. The annexes include tables on the presentation and dosage of bronchodilators and other drugs for the treatment of wheeze in children aged 0-5 and on bronchodilators and other drugs for the treatment of wheeze in the WHO list of essential drugs.