Can You Get Asthma Later in Life?

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a respiratory disease, in which various stimuli including allergens and irritants cause obstruction of the airways. As a result, constricted muscles around the airway and inflammation increase the swelling of the lining and secretion of mucous. This causes difficulty in breathing and coughing. The most common causes of asthma attacks are infection, exercise allergens, and air pollution. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

How Does Adult Onset Asthma Compare with Childhood Asthma?

Asthma can begin at any age — as a child or at age 50, 60, or even later. Adults who develop asthma are said to have adult onset asthma. Unlike children who often experience intermittent asthma symptoms, adults who develop asthma generally have persistent symptoms.

Unlike children, adults tend to have lower lung capacity after middle age because of changes in muscles and stiffening of chest walls. Daily medications may be required to keep adult asthma under control.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Adult Onset Asthma?

Regardless of age, asthma symptoms can include:

  • Dry cough, especially at night or in response to specific triggers
  • Tightness or pressure in the chest
  • Wheezing when exhaling
  • Shortness of breath after exercise or physical exertion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Colds that go to the best or linger for 10 days or more

Who is at Risk of Adult Onset Asthma?

A few factors increase the likelihood of developing adult asthma. Women are more likely to develop asthma after age 20. Obesity appears to significantly increase the risk of developing asthma as an adult. Individuals who had asthma as a child also see asthma reoccur later in life.

Causes of Asthma

Exposure to allergens or irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold, dust, or other substances commonly found in the person’s environment might trigger the first asthma symptoms in an adult. Prolonged exposure to certain workplace materials may trigger asthma symptoms in adults.

For women, hormonal fluctuations may play a role in adult asthma. Some women may first develop asthma symptoms during or after pregnancy. Women going through menopause can also develop asthma symptoms.

Can Asthma Reappear in Adults After Disappearing Years Age?

Yes, it can. Asthma is usually diagnosed in childhood. The symptoms will disappear or are significantly reduced after puberty. After age 20, symptoms may flare up again. Reappearing asthma is commonly found in people in their 30s and 40s at various levels of severity. Regardless of whether your asthma is active, you should always avoid your known triggers and keep your medications up-to-date and readily available.

How Can Adult Asthma Be Managed?

If you are diagnosed with adult asthma, daily medications may be required to manage your asthma. To lead a normal lifestyle, there are four key steps to manage asthma successfully:

  1. Educate yourself. Learn about asthma and stay up-to-date on new developments. Ask your physician about new medications or research findings that may relate to your care. Don’t make any changes to your asthma care plan without discussing the with your physician.
  2. Take prescribed medications. Use your asthma medications as prescribed. Don’t make any changes until you check with your physician. Don’t use over-the-counter medications unless prescribed by your physician.
  3. Check your lungs daily at home by using a peak flow meter. This device can detect lung changes before experiencing any changes. Visit your physician regularly for further in-office tests.
  4. Make an asthma management plan with your physician. An asthma management plan helps you understand what to do when specific situations arise. Each time you visit the physician, talk about your plan and make any necessary changes.

Schedule a Consultation

With good management and a qualified New York pulmonologist, asthma symptoms can be controlled. Most people who develop adult onset asthma can lead normal lives. If you suspect adult asthma, it may be time to discuss a prevention and treatment plan with your doctor. To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option for you. Schedule an appointment with New York pulmonologist, Dr. Shukla today, for treatment options.

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