Can You Get Asthma When You Get Older
As you know from the stats above, more adults than children have asthma. Of course, that poses the question: When in life did they start showing symptoms? Have they had asthma all their lives? Can asthma develop in older individuals?
The answer is yes, it can. If youre 20 or older, you can have what is known as adult-onset asthma. This can affect people at any age, including their 30s through their 60s and even older. That means its always important to prioritize your health, because even if youve had a life free of asthma so far, that can change.
If you have pet allergies , other air borne allergies, youre obese, youve recently had the flu or a cold, or youre a woman with fluctuating hormone levels, such as a recent pregnancy or menopause, you could get adult-onset asthma.
Theres also whats known as occupational asthma. This is when the environmental factors at your place of work lead to the development of asthma. These factors may include breathing in excessive perfume, feather beds, dust, mold, tobacco smoke and other smoke.
The symptoms of adult-onset asthma and occupational asthma are often the same as those outlined above.
When To See A Gp
See a GP if you think you or your child may have asthma.
Several conditions can cause similar symptoms, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and correct treatment.
The GP will usually be able to diagnose asthma by asking about symptoms and carrying out some simple tests.
Find out more about how asthma is diagnosed.
Allergies Can Cause Asthma
Allergies with asthma is a common problem. Eighty percent of people with asthma have allergies to things in the air, like tree, grass, and weed pollens mold animal dander dust mites and cockroach droppings. In one study, children with high levels of cockroach droppings in their homes were four times more likely to have childhood asthma than children with low levels. An allergy to dust mites is another common asthma trigger.
If you have asthma thatâs hard to control, see an allergist to find out if you have allergies. Treating your allergies with medication and avoiding your triggers can help lower the odds of a severe asthma attack.
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What Is An Asthma Action Plan
Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.
What Can Trigger Asthma
With nonallergic asthma, you could have symptoms due to weather extremes , stress, exercising too vigorously, getting the flu or a cold, air irritants and some medications.
If you have allergic asthma, then any allergens can cause constricted airways. These include food additives, medications and drugs, mold, dust mites, pet dander, pollen and more.
Those with asthma who encounter an asthma trigger may experience symptoms like wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath or inability to breathe, and coughing. Wheezing is defined as a noise that sounds like a squeak or whistle that is most apparent during exhalation. It emanates from the chest.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Asthma
It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.
During a checkup, a doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night. He or she will also ask whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will then ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. He or she will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems. Finally, the doctor will ask questions about your home and whether you have missed school or work or have trouble doing certain things.
The doctor may also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working by testing how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after you use asthma medicine.
Asthma Management Can Help
A single individual’s asthma does not necessarily remain in the same category permanently. A person with seasonal asthma triggers may find that at a certain time of year for instance, when ragweed pollen is in the air he or she is in a higher severity group than during the rest of the year.
Asthma that starts during childhood also may become less severe as a person grows and his or her airways become wider. For any person with asthma, effective ongoing asthma control can help them move into a less severe category.
The asthma experts at UI Health can help you bring your asthma under control. To request an appointment, please fill out the online form or call 312.996.3300.
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What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers
An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.
For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.
Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:
- Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
- Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
- Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
- Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
- Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
- Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
- Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
- Strong chemicals or smells.
With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.
Should I Be Concerned About Air Pollution In My Home
Yes. Your home might even be a high priority public health risk. This is probably where you are exposed to most allergens and irritants.
Home is where you cook, eat, sleep, bathe, groom, relax and play with pets. Indoor air pollution can pose a health risk. Your home may have small particles in the air or damaging gases such as carbon monoxide.
- Household cleaners and air-freshening sprays or devices
- Fuel-burning heat sources
- Smoke from cooking, candles, fireplaces or tobacco
- Toxic fumes that are off-gassing from new products
- Attached garages that store cars, motorcycles or lawnmowers
- Building and paint products
- Humidity that allows mold to grow
- Cosmetics, perfumes and hair sprays
To reduce your homes indoor air pollution:
- Remove or reduce allergens
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Does Asthma Cause Permanent Damage
The airway obstruction of asthma is generally completely reversible and usually does not cause permanent damage to the lungs, heart, or other organs. However, severe acute episodes of asthma can be associated with life threatening events and even fatalities. Survival of severe life threatening events can be associated with damage from lack of oxygen during the severe exacerbation, and lack of oxygen to the brain can cause loss of consciousness and brain damage.
Chronic asthma with ongoing airway inflammation may also be associated with what is called “remodeling” of the airways. This describes permanent changes occurring in the tissues surrounding the airways that results in permanent narrowing of airways. The potential for this emphasizes the importance of monitoring pulmonary function in patients with asthma at regular intervals, particularly those with a chronic pattern of asthma.
What Else Should I Know
The best way to manage asthma is to prevent flare-ups. Do that by following your asthma action plan and avoiding triggers, taking any medicines your doctor prescribes as directed, and getting a flu shot each year.
Your doctor also may ask you to keep track of your asthma symptoms in an asthma diary. This can help the doctor track how you feel after taking medicines. Your doctor might also ask you to use a peak flow meter as a way to monitor your asthma.
Caring for asthma takes a bit of work. But if you follow your asthma action plan, take your medicines properly, recognize your symptoms and triggers, and check in with your doctor regularly, you can do anything that people without asthma do.
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A Typical Treatment Plan
A common treatment plan for a typical person with moderate asthma is:
- A preventer inhaler , taken each morning and at bedtime. This usually prevents symptoms throughout the day and night.
- A reliever inhaler may be needed now and then if breakthrough symptoms occur. For example, if symptoms flare up when you have a cough or cold.
- If exercise or sport causes symptoms then a dose of a reliever inhaler just before the exercise usually prevents symptoms.
- The dose of the preventer inhaler may need to be increased for a while if you have a cough or cold, or during the hay fever season.
- Some people may need to add in an LTRA and/or a long-acting bronchodilator if symptoms are not controlled with the above.
At first, adjusting doses of inhalers is usually done on the advice of a doctor or nurse. In time, you may agree an asthma action plan with your doctor or nurse.
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.
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Asthma As A Global Disease
Asthma has clearly shown to be a global disease, however in last two decades was defined as a real public health problem affecting countries from all over the world and population of all age groups . However, there are differences among countries, with rates significantly above the average, for example, in some native English-speaking countries and, in contrast, much lower-than-average prevalence rates in some African and Asian countries .
Upon the first epidemiological publications on asthma, it was noted that asthma prevalence was higher in social classes with a high or very high annual income and that asthma severity was higher among the most disadvantaged. However, the latest epidemiological data from Africa, Latin America and Asia, showed that, in areas with low economic development, asthma prevalence has been increasing . Although there could be several explanations, the development of larger cities, with consequent reduction of rural areas, may have played a role. With most the world population living in urban areas, the environmental conditions as the lifestyle changes have certainly influenced the asthma prevalence rate increase .
Consequently, it can be said that asthma, worldwide, is globalized and affect all countries as a public health problem.
Are People With Asthma At Higher Risk Of Getting Covid
So, there is no hard evidence that people with asthma get sicker with COVID-19 . But is there any evidence that people with asthma are more likely to catch the coronavirus? Again, not that we are aware of. A study of 140 cases showed no link between coronavirus infections and asthma.
Some people with asthma may wonder if they are immunocompromised and what that means. Immunocompromised means that your immune system is weakened, either by a disease or by a medication. It means you are more likely to catch an infection and more likely to have a more severe illness than someone who is not immunocompromised.
Some people with asthma can be immunocompromised because of the medication they take. Here are some asthma medications and treatment combinations that can blunt the immune system:
- Any biologic therapy such as omalizumab
- Daily corticosteroid tablets or liquid
- Antibiotic tablets or liquid taken for asthma every week
- Tiotropium , a prescription asthma medication
- A combination inhaler that contains a high daily steroid dose
- Taking an inhaler with a high daily steroid dose and montelukast together
Check with your provider if youre not sure about whether your medications could be making you immunocompromised.
How To Exercise With Asthma:
1. Keep your blue rescue inhaler on you at all times.2. Check that your asthma is under control. If it’s not under control, exercise could be dangerous.3. Take your medications as directed. If you’re having trouble breathing, you should take your rescue medicine . Your doctor may also ask you to take your blue rescue inhaler or another bronchodilator fifteen minutes before you exercise.4. Warm up and cool down properly
- Before exercising, warm up slowly by walking, stretching, and doing other low-level activities.
- After you’ve finished exercising, cool down slowly for at least 10 minutes. Don’t stop exercising all of a sudden. If you’ve been running, taper the run to a walking pace. If you’ve been swimming, finish your swim with a slow paddle. Give your body time to adjust.
5. Protect yourself from other asthma triggers while you’re exercising
6. If you have symptoms, stop exercising and take your blue rescue inhaler
- Sit up. Wait a few minutes to see if your symptoms improve.
- If your symptoms improve a lot, warm up again and slowly go back to exercising.
- If your symptoms don’t improve, take another dose of your blue rescue inhaler. Wait a few minutes to see if your symptoms improve.
7. If your symptoms still don’t improve, follow these instructions:
- STOP any activity
- Take your blue rescue inhaler
- Sit up
- If the medicine is not working, call 911
- If symptoms are not getting better, keep taking your blue rescue inhaler until the ambulance arrives
How Do Healthcare Providers Diagnose Asthma
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, including information about your parents and siblings. Your provider will also ask you about your symptoms. Your provider will need to know any history of allergies, eczema and other lung diseases.
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How Serious Is Asthma
Tragically, three people die every day because of asthma attacks and research shows that two thirds of asthma deaths are preventable.
The reassuring fact is that most people with asthma who get the right treatment – and take it correctly – can manage their symptoms and get on with what they want to do in life.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
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What Is Asthma And Who Does It Affect
Asthma is a condition that affects the smaller airways of the lungs. From time to time the airways narrow in people who have asthma. This causes the typical symptoms. The extent of the narrowing, and how long each episode lasts, can vary greatly.
Asthma can start at any age but it most commonly starts in childhood. At least 1 in 10 children and 1 in 20 adults have asthma. Asthma runs in some families but many people with asthma have no other family members affected.