Adult Onset Asthma: Recognition, Diagnosis and Action Plan

When the onset of a respiratory condition such as asthma appears in adult life, it can often take people by surprise. Recognising and diagnosing the problem by a doctor is the surest way to knowing what it is that is affecting you.

Once you know what it is you are facing, you can work out an action plan for its management and treatment. In this article I take a look at this specific form of the disease and how it can affect people in adulthood.

adult onset asthmaAsthma is often regarded of as a childhood condition. However, it can affect you at any age in your life and can change over time. Maybe you have just discovered you have this condition later on in life, or perhaps you are thinking about starting a family and are concerned how it may affect you.

It can happen that some people are diagnosed with it for the first time later on in their life. In this case it is commonly referred to as "adult onset asthma."

Asthmatic Symptoms in Adults and their Triggers

In older people, the debilitating symptoms that accompany this illness are less likely to be triggered by allergies that affect children more. These include house dust mites, pets and pet hairs as well as pollens and airborne contaminates.

The commonly experienced symptoms in adults are more likely to be triggered by:

  • Colds, influenza or certain other viral infections
  • Certain forms of exercise
  • Getting highly excited or laughing
  • Depression, stress or anxiety
  • Some prescribed drugs and medications
  • Certain airway irritants such as tobacco smoke, very cold air, insecticides, fumes from cleaning chemicals, air fresheners and perfumes

For many older people who contract asthma, a shortness of breath may be the only symptom they notice. To complicate things further, it can often be difficult to discern from other illnesses that are typified by similar symptoms.

These can include heart disease, bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). For this reason it is sometimes more difficult to diagnose asthma in older adults.

Adult Asthma Action Plan

One of the best aids you can have at your fingertips is your own personal action plan for dealing with your condition. This is a management plan you develop in conjunction with your doctor that will help you to control your illness to minimise its impact on your life.

It will conclude the treatments you use each day such as your medications and when you take them, along with guidelines on how you can best control the symptoms and deal with worsening attacks. It will also include contact details that you will need if you have to call out a doctor or an ambulance to take you to the emergency room at your nearest hospital.

The main goal of any management plan is to prevent the asthma attacks when possible. This is generally done through better personal health, emotional control and anxiety reduction through recognising the triggers and avoiding situations that could bring about an attack.



References: www.asthma.org.uk and www.cdc.gov/asthma/actionplan.html