When someone thinks of asthma, often the image of a child wheezing and/or using an inhaler pops into mind. Asthma isn’t just a childhood disorder. In fact, some people develop asthma in their adult years despite never having asthma as a child. Adult-onset asthma can be more severe than childhood-onset asthma. For those who develop asthma as an adult, they often experience more attacks, persistent symptoms, and their lung function declines faster.
To sum up briefly, asthma is a disease in which a person’s airways become narrowed due to inflammation the result of which promotes various respiratory symptoms including: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
How does a person develop adult-onset asthma? There are many factors that cause adult-onset asthma, but family genetics is not one of them. Below are a few reasons a person would develop this condition in their adult years:
- Environment – If a person’s workplace contains or uses certain chemicals or allergens, this can trigger asthma symptoms.
- Allergies – Around 30 percent of adult-onset asthma cases are caused by allergies.
- Smoking – Smoking increases a person’s risk of asthma.
- Respiratory infections – Infections may compromise airways or make them more sensitive, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Infections commonly cause acute asthmatic bronchitis which may be self-limited.
Women are more likely to have adult-onset asthma than men. People who are overweight also have a higher risk of developing the condition.
To diagnose this condition, a doctor will examine a patient, listen to all the symptoms, and perform lung function testing. Functional testing will show how much and how fast the person can inhale and exhale. The doctor will try to determine what triggers the patient’s asthma. Then, he or she will prescribe inhaled or oral corticosteroids, depending on the severity of the condition. Often, daily medication is needed to keep the asthma under control. You can continue to visit the doctor for lung testing or check your lungs daily at home with a peak flow meter.
If you’ve been diagnosed with adult-onset asthma, try your best to avoid your triggers. Whether it’s smoking, dust, mold, pollen, cats, foods, workplace chemicals, find a way to either avoid, protect yourself, or limit your accessibility to these dangerous triggers.
Keep your eye on your asthma always, and get it regularly checked. Some research has shown 95 percent of people diagnosed with adult-onset still had it five years later, which means it doesn’t often go away.
If you think you may have asthma, get it checked out as soon as possible. Untreated asthma can lead to a permanent loss of lung function. Dr. Kordonowy of Internal Medicine, Lipid & Wellness of Fort Myers can exam and test your lungs to see if you have asthma or another condition. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kordonowy, call 239-362-3005, ext. 200 or click here. Dr. Kordonowy offers direct patient care membership and concierge services including the unique Inpatient Advocate Service™