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Can Asthma Develop In Adulthood

Asthma Can Start At Any Age And Since Adult

Warning Signs of Adult Onset Asthma

Many assume asthma is a disease that first turns up in childhood. But you can develop asthma as an adult, and many people do.

Its not uncommon for people at any age, even over 50, to be diagnosed with asthma.

Adults can develop asthma from infections like bronchitis or pneumonia, or from allergies and irritants like smoke or mold, but the cause is often unclear.

Kentucky has the highest percentage of adults with asthma in the country, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Kentuckys adult death rate from asthma is 10.2 per million, slightly higher than the national norm.

Adult-onset asthma can be more dangerous because its easy to attribute the symptoms to being overweight, out of shape or just getting older. Its critical to get diagnosed quickly and begin treatment before lung function is reduced permanently.

How Long Asthma Lasts For

Asthma is a long-term condition for many people, particularly if it first develops when you’re an adult.

In children, it sometimes goes away or improves during the teenage years, but can come back later in life.

The symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Most people will have normal, active lives, although some people with more severe asthma may have ongoing problems.

Other Childhood Asthma Clinical Presentations:

In clinical practice, there are different clinical presentations of symptoms that point to an underlying diagnosis of childhood asthma, and clinical improvement can occur in response to starting a child on preventive asthma therapy, such as a daily-inhaled corticosteroid and use of bronchodilator therapy for acute episodes.

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Side Effects Of Relievers And Preventers

Relievers are a safe and effective medicine, and have few side effects as long as they are not used too much. The main side effects include a mild shaking of the hands , headaches and muscle cramps. These usually only happen with high doses of reliever inhaler and usually only last for a few minutes.

Preventers are very safe at usual doses, although they can cause a range of side effects at high doses, especially with long-term use.

The main side effect of preventer inhalers is a fungal infection of the mouth or throat . You may also develop a hoarse voice and sore throat.

Using a spacer can help prevent these side effects, as can rinsing your mouth or cleaning your teeth after using your preventer inhaler.

Your doctor or nurse will discuss with you the need to balance control of your asthma with the risk of side effects, and how to keep side effects to a minimum.

Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma


People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses and the medications they use may affect one another.

If you take more than one medication, talk with your physician about ways to simplify your medication program. Explore the possibility of combining medications or using alternate ones that will have the same desired effect. Be sure to discuss potential drug interactions with anything you take including vitamins or herbal supplements.

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Asthma Triggers In Adults

People with asthma have airways that are more sensitive to some things that may not impact people without asthma. The things that set off or start symptoms are called triggers.

Adults with asthma are sensitive to the same kinds of triggers as younger people. However, every person with asthma has a different experience, and everyone may have a different trigger. You may have more than one trigger which flares up your asthma symptoms.

Triggers may include:

Remember, for most people with asthma, triggers are only a problem when asthma is not well-controlled with preventer medicine.

How Is Asthma Classified

Asthma is classified into four categories based upon frequency of symptoms and objective measures, such as peak flow measurements and/or spirometry results. These categories are: mild intermittent mild persistent moderate persistent and severe persistent. Your physician will determine the severity and control of your asthma based on how frequently you have symptoms and on lung function tests. It is important to note that a person’s asthma symptoms can change from one category to another.

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Asthma Can Cause Short

Asthma complications that develop over the short run, include:

Problems Engaging in Normal Daily Activities According to David Rosenstreich, MD, chief of the division of allergy and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, symptoms of asthma like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath may prevent you from attending work or school, impacting your productivity.

Asthma symptoms may also interfere with sleep or prevent you from exercising or engaging in other leisure or social activities. Disengagement from all of these activities can affect your overall health and increase your risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

People who have poorly controlled asthma, either because of failure to adhere to treatment or because asthma is difficult to control with treatment, are more likely to experience work and overall activity impairments than people who have asthma under control.

Severe Asthma Attacks Up to 10 percent of people who have asthma may have whats termed severe asthma. For these people, asthma symptoms occur daily and are often difficult to control, says Patricia Takach, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine in the Section of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Pennsylvanias Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Some severe asthma attacks may require a trip to the emergency room or require hospitalization. Seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms are not responding to your usual treatment.

How Does Adult Onset Asthma Compare With Childhood Asthma

Many adults developing asthma

Unlike children who often experience intermittent asthma symptoms in response to allergy triggers or respiratory infections, adults with newly diagnosed asthma generally have persistent symptoms. Daily medications may be required to keep asthma under control. After middle age, most adults experience a decrease in their lung capacity. These changes in lung function may lead some physicians to overlook asthma as a possible diagnosis. Untreated asthma can contribute to even greater loss of lung function!

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How To Manage It

Management involves two main groups of therapies to control asthma symptoms and manage flare-ups. First, there is symptom relief during flare-ups, using reliever inhalers, which relax the smooth muscle of the airways and allow them to open up, such as salbutamol .

Second, preventer medications aim to reduce the underlying inflammation in the airways and therefore reduce sensitivity to irritants. The mainstay of preventer treatment is inhaled corticosteroids , although some children can have their asthma controlled with an oral tablet .

Newer treatments are being added to help manage certain subgroups, such as those with severe asthma or exercise-induced symptoms, by targeting specific molecules involved in the inflammation pathway that causes asthma.

Treatment Of Asthma In Adults

The medications and treatments for adult asthma are:

  • Anti-inflammatories inhaled corticosteroids are taken daily to prevent asthma symptoms by reducing airway sensitivity and inflammation. Steroid tablets can be taken for acute flare-ups and more severe asthma.
  • Bronchodilators inhaled short-acting and long-acting bronchodilators are taken occasionally to relieve symptoms. They work within a few minutes and shouldnt be needed more than three times a week.
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists daily tablets to improve prevention if needed.
  • Theophylline taken daily to prevent symptoms if they are still not well controlled.
  • Monoclonal antibody therapy also called biological medicines or biologics, these injections block some of the bodys immune response to triggers.
  • Bronchial thermoplasty is a surgical procedure done on the airway itself to reduce its thickness.

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Self Management Of Asthma

Asthma action plans are an important strategy in asthma management. They are important in that they are effective in improving asthma outcomes in the paediatric and adult population when provided in written form . Evidence from a case-control study of people who had died from asthma showed that the presence of an action plan was a major protective factor against death from asthma . Of concern, there is evidence that action plans are less likely to be provided to elderly asthmatics . In a survey of elderly asthmatics 66% participants wanted more information about their asthma. The preferred method was a conversation with a doctor or receipt of written information sheets . A qualitative study of primary care physicians surprisingly revealed that action plans were not a priority in patient asthma management. These observations were partly explained by the perceived barriers in primary care such as the short consultation duration . Asthma education strategies have largely been developed in paediatric and mixed age-groups so that evidence of effectiveness of asthma self-management education in older age-groups is sparse . Whilst some studies of educational strategies for asthma specifically targeted to older people provide evidence of efficacy the evidence is not uniform , suggesting that further study in the area of what constitutes an effective educational strategy in older people with asthma is indicated.

Preparing For Your Gp Appointment

Asthma symptoms in children, adults, and more

A little bit of preparation can help you to get the most of your first GP appointment. It may even speed up the process so you can get diagnosed more quickly.

Have answers at the ready

Think about your family history.

  • Does anyone in your family have asthma?
  • Does anyone in your family have allergies?
  • Do you have any allergies, including eczema or hay fever?

Your answers to these questions could help your GP work out if asthma is more likely.

Keep a diary of your symptoms

Note down how often and when you have symptoms. For example, are your symptoms worse at night, early in the morning, or when youre at work?

You could also make a note of what you think sets them off. Things that set off your asthma symptoms are called triggers. Common asthma triggers include dust mites, cigarette smoke, and exercise.

Keeping a diary or a chart of your symptoms and triggers can help your GP or asthma nurse see the pattern of your symptoms. Seeing how your symptoms are over time helps your GP to know if asthma is more likely.

Film symptoms on your phone

Asthma can come and go, so you could have no symptoms when you go and see your GP.

Try filming yourself on your phone – or ask someone else to when youre having symptoms. Then you can show the GP or asthma nurse exactly what it was like, without having to try and describe it with words.

But dont delay getting help if symptoms are getting worse though!

Jot down your questions

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How Is Asthma Different When Youre Older

You may notice new challenges with your asthma as you get older. For example:

  • Symptoms may feel harder to control
  • It can take longer to recover from an asthma attack or get over colds and flu
  • Side effects from asthma medicines can be more noticeable
  • Other conditions alongside asthma are more common.

Some of these challenges are to do with natural ageing. As we get older, our lungs are less strong, and our immune system can take longer to fight off infection.

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to manage these changes, with your GPs support, says Dr Andy Whittamore, Asthma UKs in-house GP. And positive things you can do to keep your body and mind healthy in later life.

Diagnosed with asthma later in life?

Asthma diagnosed later in life is known as late-onset asthma. This kind of asthma is more common in women, often starting around the menopause.

Symptoms sometimes start after a viral infection. Some people may have needed steroid tablets or an inhaler for chest symptoms a while before they were given a diagnosis, says Dr Andy.

Late-onset asthma is often harder to control with the usual asthma medicines. Your GP will need to consider add on treatments, like LTRAs , or long acting bronchodilators, for extra support.

Its not uncommon for late-onset asthma to go undiagnosed or to be misdiagnosed as another condition, like a chest infection or heart disease, says Dr Andy.

Childhood asthma come back?

Create An Asthma Action Plan

Both adults and children need to create an asthma action plan to outline what type of medicine they should take and when. It will also provide details for what to do when a persons asthma is dangerously out of control. These instructions will help you, your child, friends and relatives know when its time to change treatments or seek emergency care.

To make this plan, discuss your treatment options with your doctor. Plan what you should do in the event of an asthma flare-up. Define at what point you need to increase treatment measures to prevent or reduce an attack.

List what triggers can be avoided and the best ways to avoid them. Share this plan with friends, relatives, and any caregivers your children may have. Together, you will be able to successfully treat your or your childs asthma and avoid future complications.

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How Common Is Asthma In Seniors

Not everyone agrees that the incidence of asthma in older adults is rising.

This is likely not true, Dr. Sameer Mathur, an associate professor in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, told Healthline.

It is more likely that it is now being recognized more so than in the past, especially since pulmonary and allergy/asthma physicians have been trying to get this message across, Mathur said.

We find that some patients with childhood asthma go into remission, but likely have residual lung changes, and manifest asthma symptoms when they get older, he added. There is also a group of patients that develops the onset of asthma when they are older.

Asthma is also underdiagnosed and undertreated in older adults, Mathur said, because there can be many causes for shortness of breath, including heart disease.

About 10 percent of older patients are considered to have severe asthma and have a high risk of having exacerbations that result in emergency room visits or hospitalizations, he added.

So, we suspect many physicians are focusing on other, more acutely life-threatening conditions and ignore the possibility of asthma, Mathur said.

Living Well With Adult

How much do you know on adult-onset asthma?

Managing adult-onset asthma involves taking medication as prescribed, recognizing the signs of a flare-up, and treating symptoms as soon as possible. Avoiding known triggers and things that may exacerbate your symptoms also plays an important role in managing the condition.

Smoking is a major factor in worsening asthma symptoms. If you smoke cigarettes, you should quit. If you need help quitting, talk to your primary care provider about medication, counseling, and resources to help you quit.

More research is needed to understand the risks of developing adult-onset asthma. In some cases, changes in hormones may play a role in adult-onset asthma. Women are more likely to receive an asthma diagnosis in adulthood. Additionally, being overweight has emerged as a major risk factor for adult-onset asthma.

If you have asthma symptoms, dont ignore them. With the right treatment plan, you can control your symptoms, reduce the risk of complications, and lead a good quality of life. For more information and for a complete evaluation, book an appointment online or over the phone with Riviera Allergy Medical Center today.

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Presentation Of Asthma: Early Childhood

Studies of asthma’s natural history have shown that almost 80% of cases begin during the first 6 years of life . The symptoms of pediatric asthma in this age group are varied and not specific to asthma making the diagnosis challenging. The primary symptoms of asthma in infancy and early childhood include cough, both dry and productive , wheeze, shortness of breath, and work of breathing. Asthma symptoms are a result of airway inflammation, bronchospasm, airway edema, and airway mucous gland hypertrophy. Interestingly, these symptoms can also present with a multitude of other pediatric diseases including respiratory tract infections and congenital airway anomalies posing a diagnostic challenge. It is well-established that asthma in this age group is frequently under-diagnosed and undertreated .

Often in this age group, particularly over 03 years, symptoms are virally triggered rather than allergically triggered. Infants will often have very few symptoms until they experience an upper respiratory infection, which can trigger a significant and severe inflammatory cascade.

If Your Asthma Symptoms Are Caused By Allergies Take Steps To Control Knownor Potential Triggers In Your Environment

Allergy-proof your house for dust, mold, cockroaches, and other common indoor allergens to which you are allergic.

Reduce your outdoor activities when the pollen count or ozone level is high.

Choose foods that dont contribute to your asthma or allergy symptoms.

Evaluate your workplace for possible allergens and take the necessary steps to reduce your exposure to them.

In order to determine relevant triggers, you may want to seek consultation with an allergist who can further define these triggers.

In addition, anyone with asthma should consider getting an annual flu shot. Older adults also should talk with their internist about getting a pneumonia vaccination.

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Q: What Increases Your Risk For Adult

A: Most childhood asthma disappears in adulthood. But having childhood asthma increases your risk of a relapse in your 30s or 40s. Other factors that increase the risk of adult-onset asthma include:

  • Being overweight or obese: A low level of physical activity, changes in lung physiology and higher levels of inflammation are among several factors at play.
  • Being female: Hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy and menopause can trigger asthma.
  • Allergens: Cats, cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold or dust can trigger asthma.

Asthma Can Start In Adulthood

Bronchiectasis: Symptoms, causes, and risk factors

Most people assume that asthma only develops in childhood. This assumption can make it easy to miss signs and symptoms of adult-onset asthma. Although many people first develop asthma during childhood, symptoms can develop at any time.

Asthma is a chronic lung disorder that usually leads to episodes of difficulty breathing. It causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways and increases mucus production. Common warning signs include:

  • Wheezing

An accurate diagnosis is vital in developing an effective treatment plan.

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