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Use of Morphine in Respiratory Failure

Leon Unger, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1973;125(3):460. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1973.04160030110028.
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To the Editor.  —I was shocked to read an abstract of the paper entitled "Morphine Therapy for Status Asthmaticus," published in American Journal of Diseases of Children 123:533-540, 1972, by Y. Soleymani et al.Since about 1930 there has been an ever-increasing realization that almost the only way to kill an asthmatic is to give morphine during a spell of bronchial asthma. Morphine, and to a lesser degree meperidine hydrochloride and other strong sedatives, lessen the cough reflex, and thereby lessen the ability of the asthmatic patient to cough up the sticky mucus which obstructs his ability to breathe. To combat this problem, the physician uses potassium or sodium iodide, aminophylline, ephedrine, epinephrine, and, in recent years, the corticosteroids, which lessen inflammatory changes that often occur with the asthma.The idea of giving morphine, especially intravenously, is repulsive and dangerous. Other pediatricians might use this method and thereby permanently quiet


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