Asthma is a common medical condition, affecting one in 12 people in the United States. It might seem like a mild ailment, with simplistic movie depictions showing a kid treating his symptoms with a quick spray of an inhaler, but it can be very serious.
Treatments, hospital visits, and missed school and work days due to asthma cost Americans $56 billion in 2007. Although this disease cannot be cured, managing it well can improve a person’s quality of life.
Here are some things you should know about asthma:
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes airways to become swollen, impairing breathing. It is often a lifelong condition and usually diagnosed during childhood. Asthma symptoms can be brought on by exercise, allergies or airborne substances. People with a family history of asthma or allergies have a higher chance of developing the condition.
Asthma isn’t just for kids
Although asthma is frequently diagnosed in children and managed throughout a person’s life, it can also develop later in life. Some people may not be diagnosed until after age 65, at which point it is classified as late-onset asthma. People with late-onset asthma may have fewer days without symptoms and require more medication to manage the condition.
“Elderly individuals who have trouble breathing should talk to their doctor about their symptoms,” says Jeremy Young, respiratory therapist at English Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Shortness of breath is not a normal part of aging and can be a sign of a serious condition like asthma.”
Asthma can be more serious for the elderly
Asthma can be a deadly disease, especially if it is not managed correctly. More than 3,500 people died from asthma in 2017. For adults, not only can asthma cause more severe symptoms, but it can also be more deadly. While asthma is more common in children, it is four times more likely to cause death in adults.
Medications can control asthma
Asthma can be controlled, but it may take vigilance from the patient and their doctor. It’s important to keep track of symptoms and how well they respond to different medications. This can help determine the right kind and level of medication needed. Proper management can lessen the number and severity of asthma attacks a patient might experience.
Know your triggers
While you are keeping track of your symptoms and medications, it is vital to know what triggers your symptoms as well. There are many triggers for an asthma attack, from environmental factors to animals and exercise. Even the food you eat could be a problem if you have asthma. Be sure to note what your triggers are and keep your doctor up to speed.
Asthma can affect people of any age, and while it can be deadly, it can also be managed with proper treatment. Work with your doctor to find the best treatment for you and stay on top of your condition.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.