Asthma is often thought of as a condition that mainly affects children, like chicken pox. While many people first develop asthma during childhood, the signs and symptoms of asthma can actually pop up at any point during your life. Symptoms can appear at age 50, 60, or even higher, and when this occurs, it is called adult-onset asthma.
Who is at risk for adult-onset asthma? There are multiple factors that may increase the risk of developing this condition. First of all, women seem to be more likely to develop asthma in adulthood than men. Additionally, like many chronic diseases, obesity significantly increases the risk of developing adult-onset asthma. About one third of adult-asthma cases are triggered by allergies, so if you have bad allergies, watch more closely for the symptoms of asthma.
All adults should watch for the symptoms of asthma, but if you are at an increased risk based off the above characteristics, watch more carefully for these symptoms:
- A dry, non-productive cough, particularly during the night or in response to triggers such as allergens
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath during or after exercise
- Tightness or pressure around your chest
- Wheezing while exhaling breath
- Colds that persist for a week or more
To treat adult-onset asthma, patients usually need medication to manage symptoms and keep things under control. So, if you’re experiencing symptoms and are concerned you may have adult-onset asthma, talk to your doctor to get a diagnosis and if necessary, figure out a treatment plan that includes medication.
“Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease involving the airways,” says Dr. Neetu Talreja of The Allergy Group in Boise, Idaho. “An asthma attack could be triggered by allergens, infections or exercise and can affect an individual at any age. Identifying these triggers is very important and that’s where the board certified allergist helps. The idea is to control asthma by identifying your triggers so you can prevent asthma attacks. It’s tough to manage asthma but with education and individualized asthma action plan, asthma can be controlled so much so that you don’t have to limit your activity at all.”
If you are experiencing symptoms and are worried you may have adult-onset asthma, don’t stress too much. While the condition requires monitoring and management, you can still enjoy a great quality of life by properly managing the condition with the help of an allergy and asthma specialist.