Asthma, that is typically marked by trouble breathing, is a condition in which the air passages (tubes) that transport inhaled air into the lungs get swollen. To be more specific, swelling strikes the inner walls of airways. The swollen airways restrict free flow of air, thereby making it difficult to breathe properly. One of the best ways to manage this life long medical problem involves use of medications like corticosteroids and bronchodilators that are inhaled to get relief from shortness of breath. However, when this first line of treatment doesn’t work, especially when it is an acute asthma attack or refractory asthma, doctors go for magnesium sulfate.
Acute asthma is not easy to manage, especially when the person is being treated at home. An acute asthma attack is sudden and the symptoms progress rapidly to life-threatening consequences. Studies show that magnesium sulfate is found to be useful in the management of acute asthma. So, in order to prevent complications in acute asthma, treatment with this chemical compound is definitely safe and when taken in the right dosage, does not produce any major side effects. The person may experience mild to moderate physical discomfort at the site of administration.
Severe cases of asthma may not respond to conventional treatment. In such circumstances, using magnesium sulfate has proved beneficial to control acute asthma. As we all know, in asthma the muscles surrounding the airways contract abnormally. This condition is referred as muscle spasms that prevents air from moving freely in and out of the lungs.
Studies show that magnesium sulfate given intravenously, promotes relaxation of muscles. Besides reducing muscle contraction, the chemical compound also helps to decrease the swelling of the inside walls of the airways. This positive result is observed with intravenous administration of magnesium sulfate alone and also when it is given in conjunction with bronchodilators.
Severe asthma attack can be life-threatening if treatment is delayed. A worsening asthma attack is a medical emergency and desperate measures need to be taken to improve breathing. So, if bronchodilators or corticosteroid medicines fail to provide any relief, administering magnesium sulfate is advised.
A point to note here is that magnesium sulfate is an alternative to bronchodilators but long-term use of magnesium sulfate is discouraged. Also, in a study, it was observed that magnesium sulfate is not very effective in controlling non severe cases of asthma. Hence, inhaling bronchodilators or corticosteroids is always a better option when it comes to managing mild to moderate asthma. There is no need to use magnesium sulfate when asthma can be controlled with standard asthma attack treatment. Magnesium sulfate comes into picture only when the conventional treatment seems to be ineffective in relieving asthma symptoms.
Many ask, in what dose magnesium sulfate should be given intravenously so as to restore normal breathing pattern. Approximately 50 ml of saline water will contain 40-100 mg/kg of magnesium sulfate infusion. This dose should be given intravenously for approximately 20-30 minutes. A 45 mg/kg dose often works to treat refractory asthma in children. However, this dose might be given again as required to control severe asthma exacerbations. Adult dosage may vary from 1.2-2g/kg IV magnesium sulfate and is administered for around 20 minutes. On the whole, administering intravenous magnesium sulfate infusion at the desired rate as instructed by the doctor can promote better lung function.
Apart from asthma treatment, magnesium sulfate has quite a few other medicinal purposes. For instance, it is useful to treat pregnancy complications like eclampsia. Oral or intravenous administration of magnesium sulfate is also used to alleviate symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Application of solution containing magnesium sulfate also helps in improving skin problems like acne. However, the uses of magnesium sulfate are not just restricted to medicinal purposes. It has a wide range of industrial application that vary from preparation of warm salt water in flotation therapy to production of gun powder.