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What Causes Adult Onset Asthma & How Is It Treated?

About Adult Onset Asthma:

It is common for children to develop asthma; however, it becomes a serious problem if it occurs late into adulthood. The condition is termed as adult onset asthma. There are numerous factors which play a role in individuals developing adult onset asthma. Studies suggest that adult onset asthma is seen predominantly in females above the age of 20. Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of individual developing adult onset asthma. It is also a common recurrence in people who have had asthma in their childhood and have been treated for it[1].

Adult Onset Asthma has become a cause for concern for many clinicians as more and more people are becoming conscious of their overall health and fitness and want to take measures to prevent conditions like adult onset asthma much before it actually sets in in people with risk factors. Whether the risk of adult onset asthma increases with age is something which is still being investigated and there are many cases where this condition remains undiagnosed in the elderly population[1].

Studies also suggest that there is a marked difference between asthma in childhood and adult onset asthma. The symptoms of adult onset asthma are much severe than what is observed in asthmatic children. There is also a rapid decline in lung function due to asthma in adults than in children[2].

Once there is a clear understanding of the mechanism involved with adult onset asthma can help in better management of this condition. It can also help in devising new strategies and approaches towards treating this condition [2].

Extensive research in this area has made significant progress over the years with identification of risk factors and new therapies with a positive response from patients with adult onset asthma. Some of the causative factor leading to development of adult onset asthma is what has been outlined below in the article[2].

What Causes Adult Onset Asthma and How To Treat It?

What Causes Adult Onset Asthma and How To Treat It?

There is not a clear cut reason as to why asthma develops in adults. However, if an individual is exposed to certain chemicals or irritants especially at work for prolonged periods of time then it may cause adult onset asthma. In fact according to American Lung Association at least 1 out of every 5 cases of adult onset asthma is due to workplace exposure to chemicals and other allergens[3].

This is seen most in people between the age range of 40 and years. Allergies are also believed to be a common cause for adult onset asthma. Studies suggest that around 25-30% of cases of adult onset asthma are caused by allergies[3].

The most common allergens responsible for adult onset asthma include cigarette smoke, dust, pollen, and molds. There are also certain medications that may trigger adult onset asthma. Lifestyle factors like smoking plays an important part in the development of adult onset asthma[3].

What Can Be Done About Adult Onset Asthma?

A carefully planned treatment strategy is adopted when it comes to treating adult onset asthma. The treatment includes:

Bronchodilators. This is the most common strategy used for treating asthma in adults. Bronchodilators work by relaxing the airways and make breathing easier during an asthma attack. These medications can be both fast acting and long acting. Both are equally effective for treating asthma attacks[3].

The fast acting bronchodilators come in the form of inhalers or a nebulizer and are extremely effective in treating sudden asthma attacks by making breathing easier. The long acting bronchodilators also work the same way as the fast acting ones but their effect lasts for longer period of time. Also, long lasting bronchodilators prevent symptoms rather than treating them[3].

Corticosteroids. This is yet another effective way of treating adult onset asthma. Corticosteroids decrease the inflammation in the airways caused by asthma and improve breathing during an attack. Corticosteroids can also be used in the form of inhalers. However, they do not treat the symptoms but rather decrease the frequency and severity of it[3].

Oral steroids are also at times given for treating adult onset asthma but they tend to increase sugar levels and thus not ideal for diabetics. Additionally oral steroids also make conditions like osteoporosis which is common in the elderly population worse[3].

Lifestyle Changes. Quitting smoking is the best way to treat adult onset asthma in smokers. A study done in 2014 did a research on 100 adult smokers who were newly diagnosed with asthma. After completion of the study it was noticed that once they quit smoking the severity of the asthma attacks improved dramatically to the tune of around 40%. On the other hand, people who did not quit smoking had worsening symptoms[3].

How to Manage Adult Onset Asthma On An Every Day Basis?

The best way to manage adult onset asthma on an everyday basis is to take the medications prescribed by the physician diligently. It is also important to identify the symptoms early and take necessary precautions. If the symptoms are recognized early then it becomes easier to keep them under control and prevent any complications[3].

It is also important for people with adult onset asthma who work in chemical factories or places where they are exposed to allergens to take necessary precautions to prevent any sudden attacks. Keeping a log of the daily symptom is also quite effective in identifying the triggers and help control the symptoms of adult onset asthma[3].


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 21, 2019

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