Barrington specialists equipped to diagnose and treat asthma in adult sufferers
Asthma is a common illness in childhood, but almost four times as many adults have asthma as children. While the roughly 26 million Americans aged 18 and older have essentially the same disease, there are variations in symptoms, medications used, and challenges faced.
If you are an older person with asthma, it’s important to be aware of a few things that can make a big difference with regard to effective symptom prevention and treatment.
It’s common for asthma symptoms to subside as children get older. That said, for those who are diagnosed with asthma as an adult, at least 30 percent have allergies to blame.
This “extrinsic” type of asthma is commonly brought on by inhaled allergens such as dust mites, pet or animal dander, pollen, and mold. The symptoms, however, are comparable to non-allergic asthma and include shortness of breath, a tightening sensation in the chest, coughing, and wheezing.
For those adults who develop asthma, it’s also thought they may have had allergies as children and, with time, they began to respond differently to those allergens. Those differences may include asthma symptoms not formerly experienced by inhaling the allergen.
Other triggers in adults but certainly not exclusive to older asthmatics include:
- Respiratory infections
- Strenuous activity such as exercise
- Pollutants in the air
- Dry air
Generally, in children symptoms occur off and on. Reportedly, hormonal changes during puberty may cause symptoms to taper off. This coming and going of asthma symptoms may continue well into the 30s and 40s. It’s also thought hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause may account for older women experiencing asthma for the first time in adulthood.
Many adults experience asthma for the first time after a bad bout of a cold, the flu, or encounters with other illnesses and viruses.
Usually, though, adult-onset asthma has more persistent symptoms than those experienced by children.
Since symptoms can be persistent, adults might need daily medications to help manage asthma and provide relief. Children have their own set of challenges with asthma, but adults face special challenges as their lung capacity naturally decreases with age even without asthma.
This represents an additional layer of complexity to diagnosing asthma in older adults, as lung function-related problems may be attributed to natural aging rather than asthma. Untreated asthma can lead to even greater loss of function. Furthermore, these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases that are common among older adults, such as rheumatoid arthritis and COPD.
Drs. Noga Askenazi and Eugenia Hahn will conduct a thorough assessment of your symptoms, medical history, and physical examination to either rule out or confirm asthma.
Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates and Food Allergy Center of Illinois also has the specialized expertise and technologies to conduct accurate and thorough lung function and other respiratory, allergy, and asthma related tests. With a correct diagnosis, our specialists will develop a treatment plan for adult asthma in Barrington, which can also take into account any pre-existing conditions or medications you may be taking to treat the conditions to minimize potential drug interactions while managing and preventing your symptoms.Back to Patient Education Page