Management of Asthma Before Surgery

If you have moderate to severe asthma, you are at higher risk of having problems during and after surgery than people who do not have asthma. Careful asthma control in the weeks before surgery may help you reduce the risk of problems. For some people with severe asthma, a short treatment with corticosteroids may improve their lung function before surgery and prevent problems.footnote 1

Problems that may occur during and after surgery include:

  • Sudden airway narrowing. This can be triggered by placement of a breathing tube into the airway before surgery.
  • Low blood oxygen levels and possibly an increased blood level of carbon dioxide.
  • Decreased ability to clear your lungs by coughing.
  • Respiratory infection and collapse of a lung.
  • An allergic reaction to latex (if latex is used during surgery).


  1. National Institutes of Health (2007). National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma (NIH Publication No. 08–5846). Available online:

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology

Current as ofAugust 21, 2015