A young boy, in obvious respiratory distress from a severe asthma attack, presents in the emergency department. One drug ordered by the physician, to be administered by the respiratory therapist, is N-acetylcysteine. Which of the following is the purpose of this drug? (AIPG 2009)
|A||Block receptors for the cysteinyl leukotrienes|
|B||Inhibit metabolic inactivation of epinephrine or B2 agonists that were administered.|
|C||Inhibit leukotriene synthesis|
|D||Thin airway mucus secretions for easier removal by suctioning.|
a. N-acetylcysteine is a mucolytic (mucus-thinning) drug, given to reduce the viscosity of airway mucus. It has no effects, in the context of pulmonary disease, other than that. It is given by inhalation, usually with a nebulizer in hypertonic saline, mainly to facilitate mucus removal (whether by airway suctioning or by postural changes that allows better drainage from the airways.
b. This is an important emergency adjunct for asthma—one that you should know better in its other main role, as an antidote for acetaminophen poisoning.