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What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma In Adults

Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma

Warning Signs of Adult Onset 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.

Is Copd Different From Asthma

Chronic obstructive lung disease is a chronic, progressive, irreversible lung disease that is usually due to damage to the airways from smoking. Asthma is a reversible lung disease due to inflammation. The exact cause of asthma is unknown, but it seems to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, and cough are symptoms found in both COPD and asthma. It is possible to have both asthma and COPD, a condition called Asthma-COPD overlap or ACO. Those who have asthma that is poorly controlled and who smoke are more likely to develop ACO.

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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Cigarette Smoke And Asthma

Cigarette smoke is a common trigger for asthma symptoms. Many other respiratory illnesses are caused and made worse by smoking, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Managing symptoms will become easier for people with asthma if they are able to quit smoking or avoid being around people who are smoking.

Although quitting can be difficult, there are many effective treatment options available which you can discuss with your doctor or pharmacist.

Key Points About Asthma In Adults

Vector Poster Asthma Symptoms Stock Illustration ...
  • New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world, affecting up to 1 in 7 children and 1 in 8 adults.
  • If you have asthma, your airways are sensitive and react to certain triggers such as allergens , viruses, cold or humid weather, exercise and air pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
  • These triggers cause your air passages to tighten up, swell on the inside and produce more mucus.
  • As a result, the airways become narrower, making it difficult for air to move into your lungs, and even more difficult for air to move out.
  • Learning about asthma, what causes it and how it is treated can help you avoid triggers and keep your symptoms under control.
  • Seek urgent medical help if you have severe asthma symptoms.
  • Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

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    Asthma Medication Is Important

    Asthma can be well-controlled with the appropriate medication in almost all people. To maintain and improve your asthma control both in the short and long term, it is important to continue to take your asthma medications and discuss any symptoms and concerns with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

    The main types of medication are:

    • preventers that slowly make the airways less sensitive to triggers by reducing swelling and mucus inside the airways. This medication is taken daily. There are also combination preventer medications containing two different medications.
    • relievers that act quickly to relieve symptoms by relaxing the tight muscles around the airways. This medication is used during an asthma attack

    Your Chest Feels Tight

    After running a 10K race, Anne-Marie Brooks had trouble breathing and felt a tightness in her chest. Her husband, concerned that the exertion might have brought on a heart attack, took her to the emergency room. There, the 48-year-old teacher learned she wasnt suffering from cardiac trouble but from something she thought shed left behind 36 years earlierasthma. It never dawned on me that I might be having an asthma attack, Brooks says. When this happens you may experience chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough, explains Yelena Kopyltsova, MD, of ENTA and Allergy Associates. People often mistake this tightness for heart attacks. Your physician or an ER can figure out whats going on and provide appropriate treatment.

    Dont miss these silent signs you may have heart murmur.

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    Surprising Signs Of Adult

    This post is available in: Spanish

    That persistent cough that keeps you up at night may stem from more than just a tickle in the back of your throat. It could be adult-onset asthma.

    Many people experience a jolt of disbelief when they are diagnosed with asthma later in life, especially if they have never experienced symptoms before. Asthma? That condition that causes kids to wheeze?

    It turns out adult-onset asthma is far more common than many people realize. Asthma is often considered a disease of children, so adults may be surprised when they are diagnosed with asthma, says pulmonologist Javier Pérez-Fernández, M.D., the critical care director at Baptist Hospital of Miami.

    The number of people with asthma grows every year. Currently, more than 26 million Americans have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, more than 20 million are among adults, with the greatest number of cases among ages 35 and 65.

    Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that can lead to coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath or wheezing. Among adults who develop asthma later in life, the symptoms may initially be more subtle than in children, which can cause patients to overlook or ignore the condition. But its important to treat symptoms as soon as possible so they dont become severe, said Dr. Pérez-Fernández, who also serves as director of pulmonology for West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

    What Does Asthma Feel Like

    Health check: Adult onset asthma

    Asthma is characterized by inflammation of the bronchial tubes with increased production of sticky secretions inside the tubes. People with asthma experience symptoms when the airways tighten, inflame, or fill with mucus. Common asthma symptoms include:

    • Coughing, especially at night
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

    Still, not every person with asthma has the same symptoms in the same way. You may not have all of these symptoms, or you may have different symptoms at different times. Your asthma symptoms may also vary from one asthma attack to the next, being mild during one and severe during another.

    Some people with asthma may go for extended periods without having any symptoms, interrupted by periodic worsening of their symptoms called asthma attacks. Others might have asthma symptoms every day. In addition, some people may only have asthma during exercise, or asthma with viral infections like colds.

    Mild asthma attacks are generally more common. Usually, the airways open up within a few minutes to a few hours. Severe attacks are less common but last longer and require immediate medical help. It is important to recognize and treat even mild asthma symptoms to help you prevent severe episodes and keep asthma under better control.

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    Inhaled Medication Delivery Devices

    Inhaled asthma medications come in a variety forms including pressurized metered-dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers . Not all medications are available in the same delivery devices. Also, some devices have dose counters included and others, such as pMDIs, do not. The most important factor in selecting a medication delivery device is to ensure that the patient uses it properly.

    In children, it is recommended that pMDIs always be used with a spacer device since they are as effective as nebulizers a pMDI with spacer is also preferred over nebulizers . A spacer with face mask is recommended for children 24 years of age, while a spacer with mouthpiece is recommended for children 46 years of age. To transition to a spacer with mouthpiece, children must be able to form a seal around the mouthpiece and breathe through their mouths. For children 6 years of age or over, a pMDI plus spacer with mouthpiece or DPI is recommended. Since children must have sufficient inspiratory force to use a DPI, these devices are generally not recommended for children under 6 years of age.

    How To Tell You Have Asthma

    In this section: Diagnosis and Lung Testing | How To Tell You Have Asthma | Your Healthcare Team

    Asthma is a complex disease to diagnose, and only a healthcare professional is able to make a proper diagnosis.

    If you are concerned that you may have asthma, contact your healthcare provider. In order to confirm an asthma diagnosis, your healthcare provider will take into account your medical and family history, allergies, and conduct lung function testing such as spirometry.

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    How Is Asthma Diagnosed

    In most cases, asthma can be diagnosed from:

    • a description of your asthma symptoms now and in the past
    • listening to your breathing with a stethoscope
    • checking how your lungs are working with breathing tests, such as a peak flow meter and spirometry .

    In some cases, more detailed testing may be required, such as a skin-prick test to test for allergens or, rarely, a chest x-ray to rule out other conditions.

    Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will prescribe the type of medicines you need to take and will set up an asthma action plan. This plan reminds you how to manage your asthma every day and how to recognise and manage your asthma when your symptoms get worse.

    Does Asthma Get Worse As You Get Older

    Asthma Infographic Elements Detail About Of Asthma ...

    Yes, with age, the elastic fibers in the lungs tend to stiffen, the chest wall becomes more rigid, and the respiratory muscles weaken. This combination of factors exacerbates the shortness of breath and chest tightness that are classic asthma symptoms.

    The immune system also ages and becomes less effective at fighting off infections, a phenomenon called immunosenescence. The number of chronic illnesses an individual has also tends to increase with age, which brings increased inflammation. Medications that may have worked in the past, may no longer work as well. Older adults should carefully monitor their respiratory status and work with their doctor to keep their symptoms under control.

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    Asthma Doesn’t Go Away On Its Own

    It can be tempting to ignore these symptoms and hope it goes away on its own, but this isn’t something you should ignore, says Dr. Gerber.

    Acute asthma attacks can damage the lungs over time, and can even be potentially life threatening

    Therefore, it’s important to do everything you can to control asthma.

    This starts with getting an accurate diagnosis, making a treatment plan with your doctor, and then doing your best to structure your daily life to avoid triggers and manage your symptoms.

    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.

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    Are There Special Considerations In Treating Asthma In Older Adults

    Yes. First of all, treatment of asthma for older adults can be complicated by the fact that so many older people take multiple medications for various health conditions. Some asthma medications can react with those other treatments, causing unpleasant side effects. In addition, other medications may actually worsen asthma symptoms.

    Secondly, older patients are more likely than younger patients to have mental confusion or memory problems. This may be the result of normal aging or of an illness, such as Alzheimers disease. Whatever the cause, these problems can make it difficult for certain older patients to follow treatment instructions especially if that person takes medications for a variety of health conditions.

    Additionally, many asthma medications come in the form of an L-shaped metered dose inhaler which requires a certain degree of manual coordination and dexterity. Older people are more likely to have difficulty with this type of medication device, and in using it, may not receive the correct dose. Treatment with a dry powder inhaler or oral medications can help older asthma patients avoid problems with use of L-shaped inhalers.

    What Does Asthma Look Like In Adults

    When do the first symptoms of asthma usually appear?

    Asthma is often thought of as a childhood condition, but while children are more likely to get diagnosed, more adults live with the chronic respiratory disease.

    Nearly 10 percent of American adults, about 20 million people, have asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America .

    “While adult and childhood asthma are classified as different types of asthma, it is actually very similar in terms of symptoms, management, triggers and even medications used,” says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network and a clinical assistant professor in the departments of medicine and pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine.

    However similar the two conditions, the consequences can be worse for adults. The respiratory disease causes an economic loss of $81 billion per year, a result of medical costs and missed work.

    Worse, an average of 3,500 people a year die from it, and adults are five times more likely to die from asthma than children, according to the AAFA.

    This is why it’s so important for you to get assessed for asthma if you have any symptoms. The goal: a proper diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, that may be easier said than done.

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    Side Effects Of Steroid Tablets

    Oral steroids carry a risk if they are taken for more than three months or if they are taken frequently . Side effects can include:

    • easy bruising
    • muscle weakness

    With the exception of increased appetite, which is very commonly experienced by people taking oral steroids, most of these unwanted effects are uncommon.

    However, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them regularly, especially side effects that are not immediately obvious, such as high blood pressure, thinning of the bones, diabetes and glaucoma.

    You will need regular appointments to check for these.

    Want to know more?

    How Does Asthma Affect Adults

    Asthma, an inflammatory lung disease, affects the respiratory system and causes the airways to narrow when a person is exposed to an allergen such as dust or pollen.

    The airways can also narrow if a person is exercising or exposed to cold air. Breathing becomes difficult when the airways narrow, and asthma symptoms appear.

    • Shortness of breath
    • Coughing is a common asthmatic symptom in adults.

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    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.

    Symptoms Like Coughing Wheezing And Feeling Breathless Could Mean You Have Asthma See Your Gp To Confirm A Diagnosis Of Asthma And Start Treatment

    Asthma Symptoms Stock Illustration

    Find out why its important to get a diagnosis so you can start treatment for asthma, how asthma is diagnosed, and how you can take positive steps to stay symptom free after a diagnosis.

    • tightness in the chest
    • feeling short of breath.

    Not everyone with asthma will get all of these. For example, not everyone wheezes. But if youre experiencing one or more of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP.

    Most people with well-managed asthma only have symptoms now and then. But some people have symptoms a lot of the time, particularly the small percentage of people with severe asthma.

    A key thing with asthma is that symptoms come and go – you may not have them all the time.

    Why its important to see your GP to confirm a diagnosis

    If youve noticed asthma-like symptoms, dont ignore them. Make an appointment with your GP or an asthma nurse as soon as you can.

    The quicker you get diagnosed, the quicker you can get the right medicines to help you deal with your symptoms.

    Asthma is a long-term condition that needs regular preventer treatment. If its not treated, it could lead to an asthma attack which can be life-threatening.

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    Is There An App For That

    There are variety of mobile apps available for people with asthma. These can be a useful way to learn about and take control of your asthma, eg, they can help you keep track of your symptoms, triggers, peak flow readings and medication. You can also create an asthma action plan together with your doctor or nurse. The Health Navigator app library team has reviewed some asthma apps that you may like to consider. Read more about asthma apps.


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