Even if you have no history of asthma as a child, it can develop in adulthood. The condition, known as adult-onset asthma, leaves you short of breath and tight in the chest. You may wheeze as you exhale, suffer a dry cough, and find that colds move to the chest quickly and leave lingering symptoms.
About 20 million adults age 18 and older in the United States have asthma. Because asthma in adults shares symptoms with a few other conditions, it’s not always easy to pinpoint the underlying cause.
The team of professionals at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center, led by Shailee Madhok, MD, are ready to help if you’re struggling with the symptoms of asthma. Here’s what to do if you suspect you have adult-onset asthma and how to manage it effectively.
Asthma affects all ages
Asthma often starts in childhood, but that’s not always the case. Adults are diagnosed with new-onset asthma all the time, and it’s more common in women than men. Adults develop asthma due to a variety of factors, including:
- Chronic exposure to allergens
- Respiratory infections
- Exposure to smoke or other irritants
- Exposure to workplace triggers
- Pregnancy or menopause in women
Reduced lung capacity as you age adds to the problem.
Symptoms that suggest asthma
Asthma symptoms often look like those associated with other conditions, such as chronic pulmonary obstruction disorder.
Visit our office for asthma screening if you experience:
- Difficulty catching your breath after physical activity
- Wheezing while exhaling
- Tightness in chest
- Dry cough
In children, asthma symptoms typically go away between flare-ups, while people diagnosed in adulthood often have persistent wheezing and other breathing issues.
These symptoms don’t necessarily mean you have asthma, especially if they’re short lived, but getting a screening can get you help if you need it.
Know your triggers
Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Be aware of these potential asthma-inducing culprits:
- Physical exertion
- Cold air
- Allergens, such as pet dander or pollen
- Cigarette smoke
- Environmental pollutants
- Respiratory ailments, such as the cold and flu
Minimizing your exposure to triggers helps you manage the symptoms of asthma. Try to keep your house clean and free of allergens. If you’re a smoker, make it a priority to quit. Just a few precautions can minimize the impact of asthma on your day-to-day life.
Getting relief from asthma
We individualize your treatment for adult-onset asthma depending on the severity of your symptoms. One common course of preventive treatment involves regularly using inhaled steroids to reduce inflammation, and/or a long-acting bronchodilator inhaler to help keep the airways relaxed. We may also prescribe a rescue inhaler, or short-acting bronchodilator, to provide relief when you’re having an asthma attack.
If you have asthma, it’s a good idea to test your lung function daily to detect any changes. We may recommend you get a peak flow meter to measure and track your ability to expel air from your lungs. We use this information to determine if your medication is working properly and to make any necessary adjustments.
Effective long-term management is possible
Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be effectively managed with the right medication and lifestyle changes. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of adult-onset asthma, come see us at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center. We have the experience and knowledge to help you. Call today or use this website to schedule an appointment.