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What Causes Adult Onset Asthma

What Effect Can Managing Weight Have On Asthma

HEALTH FOCUS: Understanding adult onset asthma

It seems logical that weight loss might improve asthma control, although few studies have been done to prove it.2 Studies do show that adults who lose weight have better lung function, fewer asthma flare-ups, and need less medication.3

Reported results after bariatric surgery have been impressive, although the studies are not very high quality.1 About half of people no longer have asthma after the surgery. Up to 90% need less medication and have fewer asthma attacks or hospitalizations.

What Causes Adults To Develop Asthma

At least 30% of adult asthma cases are triggered by allergies. People who are allergic to cats may have an increased risk for developing adult onset asthma. Exposure to allergens or irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold, dust, or other substances commonly found in the persons environment might trigger the first asthma symptoms in an adult.

Prolonged exposure to certain workplace materials may set off asthma symptoms in adults.

Hormonal fluctuations in women may play a role in adult onset asthma. Some women first develop asthma symptoms during or after a pregnancy. Women going through menopause can develop asthma symptoms for the first time.

Different illnesses, viruses, or infections can be a factor in adult onset asthma. A bad cold or a bout with the flu is often a factor in adult onset asthma.

Smoking does not cause adult onset asthma however, if you smoke or if you are exposed to cigarette smoke , it may provoke asthma symptoms.

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.

Recommended Reading: How To Calm Down Asthma Symptoms

Breathing: Normal Airways Vs Asthma Airways

Normal: In someone with optimal lung function, air is inhaled through the nose and mouth, passing through the trachea before moving into the bronchi . The bronchi branch into smaller tubes, ending in many small sacs called alveoli. Its in the alveoli that oxygen is passed to the blood and carbon dioxide is removed.

Asthma: In someone with asthma, the airways are inflamed, and when triggered, can constrict even more, obstructing airflow to the lungs.

Why Do People Get Asthma


Research has yet to show a definitive cause of asthma. However, researchers have determined several risk factors that can lead to asthma development.

Family History and Genetics

Children of mothers with asthma are three times more likely to suffer from asthma, and 2.5 times more likely if the father has asthma. More than 30 genes have been linked to asthma so far, and gene-gene interactions, gene-environment interactions and epigenetic modifications also play a part. Genetic differences also play a role in differences in response to treatment.


People are more likely to have asthma if they have certain types of allergies, such ones which can affect the eyes and nose. However, not everyone who has allergies will get asthma and not everyone who has asthma is affected by allergies. Respiratory allergies and some types of asthma are related to an antibody called immunoglobulin E , which the immune system produces in response to allergens. To protect the body, the IgE causes allergic reactions that can affect the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin.

Premature Birth

Children born before 37 weeks are at increased risk of developing asthma later in life.

Lung Infections

Babies or small children may be at risk of developing asthma later in life if they had certain lung infections at a very early age.

Occupational Exposures


Women can develop adult-onset asthma during or after menopause.

Environment Air Quality


Read Also: Viral Induced Asthma In Adults

Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults With Asthma

Many adults take several medications and/or use over-the counter medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, regularly. Work with your doctor to simplify your medication program as much as possible. 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. Some asthma medications increase heart rate. If you have a heart condition, discuss those side affects with your health care provider. Older “first generation” antihistamines can cause men with enlarged prostates to retain urine. Oral steroids can make symptoms of glaucoma, cataracts and osteoporosis worse. Adults with arthritis may need special inhalers that are easier to operate. Anyone with asthma should consider getting an annual flu shot. Older adults also should talk with their doctor about getting a pneumonia vaccination. People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses may affect one another.

This article was published by AAFA, copyright 1995. It can be accessed online at the following link.

How Is Your Lung Function Tested

Lung function tests can tell us how well our lungs are performing. If someone has , its important to know whether inhaled air can flow freely through their airways or whether their breathing is obstructed by narrow . This can usually be done using just two tests known as peak flow measurement and spirometry.

Peak flow measurement is an important lung function test that you can carry out on your own at home. The measuring device, known as a peak flow meter, is easy to use. After taking a deep breath, you blow into it as hard as you can. This measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. The peak flow reading indicates whether the are narrowed.

In spirometry , both the amount of air you breathe out and how fast you blow it out are measured. Here you blow hard into the mouthpiece of the device, called a spirometer. This measures the amount of air that you exhale in one second when blowing as hard as you can. Doctors call this the forced expiratory volume in 1 second . The test can usually be done by your family doctor, and can also be used to monitor the progression of the illness: By comparing old and new spirometry readings, you can see whether your lung function has improved or worsened over time.

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How Is Obesity Treated

The primary treatment for obesity is weight loss. Weight loss can be achieved through diet changes and increased exercise. One study showed that 5% weight loss is enough to improve asthma control.2 For some people who are morbidly obese, bariatric surgery may be an option.

Exercise is recommended for its general health benefits, as well as for weight loss. Exercise is a common trigger for asthma symptoms.8 Your health care provider or respiratory therapist can work with you to develop an exercise program and manage your symptoms. Typically, this involves using a short-acting beta-agonist before exercise and doing a ten to 15 minute warm up.9

Asthma Uk Is Here To Support You

How much do you know on adult-onset asthma?

We have expert advice on how to manage your asthma well and what to do if you have an asthma attack.

We also have lots of tips on living with asthma, from doing sports and going on holiday, to studying with asthma and having relationships.

Explore our health advice web pages and . The more you know about your asthma, the better youll be able to work with your GP or asthma nurse to manage it well.

Speak to someone about your asthma

You can also call our Helpline on 00 222 5800 to speak to a respiratory nurse specialist. Or you can WhatsApp them on 0307378 606 728.

You can ask them anything from symptoms and treatments to living life without asthma getting in the way.

Next review due February 2024

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How To Get A Diagnosis

The first thing to do is book an appointment. Your GP or an asthma nurse can help confirm or rule out a diagnosis of asthma.

They can do this by:

  • talking about your symptoms, what sets them off, and when you get them
  • asking if anyone else in the family has asthma
  • finding out if you, or anyone in your family, have other allergies, like hay fever
  • testing how your lungs are working
  • listening to your chest for any sounds of wheezing
  • prescribing asthma treatments to see if they make a difference
  • considering any other symptoms that might suggest something else.

Asthma tests

Alongside a full clinical assessment by your GP, youll need some asthma tests to confirm or rule out asthma. Your GP can see how your lungs are working with tests like peak flow, spirometry, and FeNo .

Your GP can usually perform these tests during the appointment, and you can see the results straight away. But you may need to do tests again on another day before your GP can confirm you have asthma.

You may be given a peak flow meter to use at home for a couple of weeks. This is so you can record your own peak flow scores in a diary.

When you take it back to your appointment, your GP or asthma nurse will be able to see a pattern of scores that could suggest asthma.

Trying out asthma treatments

Your GP or asthma nurse may prescribe asthma treatments to see if they help. This is sometimes called a trial of treatment.

If your symptoms start to get better, it suggests you could have asthma.

Preparing For Your Gp Appointment

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 Can Distinguish Between Adult

While neither COPD nor adult-onset asthma is curable, they are treatable. Because they are so similar in nature, it is important to receive a correct diagnosis so that you can manage symptoms accordingly.

Your physician plays a key role in helping you understand your lung condition. However, generally speaking, the symptoms are not exactly the same. Adult-onset asthma displays itself in random episodes of wheezing and tight-chestedness. If you have COPD, your cough will likely be chronic and consistent.

Your doctor will diagnose your lung disease using the following methods:

  • Ask about your familys health history.
  • Determine whether or not you smoke, the quality of the air you breathe daily, and other allergens or pollutants you may be ingesting.
  • Take a spirometry test.
  • Measure your oxygen level.

What Are The Symptoms Of Reflux Related Adult Onset Asthma


Patient may have the common symptoms of reflux, including heartburn, difficulty swallowing and regurgitation.

However, as a result of the close relationship between the esophagus and windpipe, many patients may present with uncommon breathing symptoms including:

  • Chronic cough
  • Pneumonia
  • Aspiration

Chronic aspiration of gastric acid and bile , which typically occurs at night when patients are lying down, can severely damage the lungs and vocal cords. Long-standing aspiration can even cause severe pulmonary disease such as pulmonary fibrosis.

Also Check: What Is Uncontrolled Asthma

Distinctive Features Of Copd Management

Stable COPD requires both nonpharmacological and pharmacological management. illustrates a stepwise approach to guide treatment decisions.

Stepwise management of Stable COPD.

Note: Copyright © 2012. Stepwise Management of Stable COPD. Reproduced with permission from the publisher, Lung Foundation Australia. Please visit for the current version.

Abbreviations: COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD-X, Confirm diagnosis, Optimise function, Prevent deterioration, Develop support, manage eXacerbations FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second GP, general practitioner ICS, inhaled corticosteroids LABA, long-acting beta-agonist.

Gina Recommends Considering The Presence Of Type 2 Inflammation In Patients With Severe Asthma Who Are Taking A High


a The below are not the criteria for eligibility for Type 2targeted biologic therapy.b Patients dependent on OCS may also have underlying Type 2 inflammation however, biomarkers of Type 2 inflammation are often suppressed by OCS. If possible, therefore, these tests should be performed before starting OCS or on the lowest possible OCS dose.

EOS, eosinophils FeNO, fractional exhaled nitric oxide FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second GINA, Global Initiative for Asthma ICS, inhaled corticosteroid OCS, oral corticosteroid.

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How To Prevent Adult Onset Asthma

So whats a girl to do? Theres no fool-proof way to prevent adult-onset asthma, but you can reduce your risk in several ways.

Reduce your exposure to common allergic triggers, such as pet dander, cockroaches, pollen, humidity, and air pollution. Launder linens regularly, keep your home clean and dust-free, and if you can, dont let pets hang out in your bedroom. Make it a habit to check air quality reports, especially during the muggy summer months.

Kick obesity in the butt! Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get plenty of fresh air. By watching your weight, you significantly lower your risk of putting stress on your body, which can lead to asthmatic issues later in life.

Stay well. Take the time to get a yearly physical, and if you get sick, take good care of yourself by drinking lots of fluids and taking medications as directed. Infections can cause an asthma attack, so be sure to monitor your symptoms and speak to your medical provider if you begin to experience the classic symptoms of asthma .

Dont smoke.

Hopefully, future research will help make it clear just what puts women at risk for developing adult-onset asthma. In the meantime, stay alert, healthy, and happy!

This article was written by Zoe Camp. Zoe is an avid blogger for and a student at Columbia University who spends her time researching and writing about health care, specifically pulmonary health issues.

What Are The Risk Factors For Adult

Health check: Adult onset asthma

The risk factors for adult-onset asthma are significantly different from those for childhood asthma. Risk factors for childhood asthma generally are tobacco smoke, air pollution, family history of allergies, bacterial composition, and viral respiratory infections. A predisposition based on family genetics is perhaps the greatest risk factor for children.

Some of the most common risk factors for adult-onset asthma are:

  • Older age
  • Female
  • Respiratory problems
  • Irritants and pollutants in daily environment

As is true for children, adult-onset asthma symptoms may be triggered by environmental factors. If there is mold in your home or poor air quality where you live, it could worsen or trigger the asthma.

Also Check: Random Asthma Attacks

Can Asthma Reappear In Adults After Disappearing Years Ago

Asthma is usually diagnosed in childhood. In many patients however, the symptoms will disappear or are significantly reduced after puberty. After age 20, symptoms may begin to reappear.

Researchers have tracked this tendency for reappearing asthma and found that people with childhood asthma tend to experience reappearing symptoms through their 30s and 40s at various levels of severity.

Regardless of whether your asthma is active, you should continue to avoid your known triggers and keep your rescue medications or prescriptions up-to-date and handy in case you need them.

Tevas Approvals: Airduo And Armonair

In January 2017, Tevas AirDuo RespiClick was FDA-approved for adolescent and adult patients with asthma. In July 2019, the AirDuo Digihaler was approved.

  • AirDuo Respiclick is a combination corticosteroid and long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist. It is a breath-activated, dry powder inhaler formulations. AirDuo contains the same active ingredients as Advair Diskus.
  • AirDuo RespiClick or Digihaler are available in three different strengths and are administered as one inhalation twice daily.
  • AirDuo Digihaler, which can be used with a mobile app, contains a built-in electronic module that records data about inhaler events. It detects when the inhaler is used and measures inspiratory flow rates. AirDuo Digihaler does not need to be connected to the app in order to use the medicine.
  • The most common side effects for AirDuo includes nasopharyngitis , headache, cough, back pain, and oral candidiasis .

ArmonAir RespiClick has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but ArmonAir Digihaler was approved in February 2020 to take its place. This Digihaler works similar to the AirDuo product.

  • ArmonAir Digihaler contains only the corticosteroid fluticasone, the same active ingredient as Flovent.
  • ArmonAir Digihaler is also available in three strengths and it is taken as one inhalation twice daily.
  • The most common side effects for ArmonAir Digihaler includes nasopharyngitis , headache, cough, upper respiratory tract infections, back pain, and oral candidiasis .

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