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What Is An Adult Onset Asthma?

Jan 30, 2023 | Blog

Asthma is a common childhood disease, but that does not mean it cannot strike in old age. Yes, you can get asthma as an adult; if your diagnosis is made past 20 years, the phenomenon is known as adult-onset asthma.

Is Asthma In Adults Common?

Around 21 million U.S. adult population of ages 18 or older suffer from asthma. According to research, it is said that asthma is more commonly found in female adults rather than male adults.

Common signs and symptoms of asthma in adults include:

  • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Tightness in the chest or sudden pain
  • Wheezing while breathing (a strange whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Waking at night due to asthma symptoms

Can Anyone Get Diagnosed with Adult Onset Asthma?

Not everyone, but certain people may be more susceptible to get adult-onset asthma; let’s take a closer look:

  • Women undergoing hormonal fluctuations, such as ones who are pregnant or on the verge of menopause.
  • Women on estrogen replacement therapy for 10 years or longer
  • If you have gotten hit by a virus or illness like the cold or flu.
  • Cat allergies
  • GERD – a kind of chronic heartburn with reflux
  • Exposure to environmental irritants, like tobacco smoke, mold, dust, feather beds, or certain perfumes.

Childhood Asthma and Adult-Onset Asthma – The Difference

Usually, as soon as adulthood hits, your lungs have low forced expiratory volume. It is the volume of air you can forcibly exhale in a matter of one second.

Mostly after middle age, the muscles in your chest walls stiffen, decreasing lung function, which makes doctors miss the diagnosis of adult-onset asthma.

It is more severe than childhood asthma and sharply decreases lung function, which is not good for overall health.

Diagnosis of Adult-Onset Asthma

Your asthma specialist will use the following method/s to diagnose adult-onset asthma:

Step 1:

the y start by taking your complete medical history, focusing on your symptoms.

Step 2:

Next up is external breathing analysis. They put a stethoscope on the skin of your chest wall and listen to you breathe in and out.

Diagnostic Tests

After the initial analysis, it is time to perform the actual tests.

Lung Function Test

This test is done via a spirometer, a device that measures how much air you are able to exhale after taking in your first deep breath, along with how fast you can empty your lungs.

If mucus clogs your lungs, your lung specialist may ask you to inhale a short-acting bronchodilator. It is a medicine that dilates (opens up) your airways by relaxing tight muscles and clearing out mucus either before or after the test.

Methacholine Challenge Test

If the tests are indecisive on the spirometer, this test helps determine whether you suffer from the adult version of asthma.

Methacholine, after inhalation, results in airway spasms and walls narrowing if you have asthma.

You must take in large amounts of methacholine in the form of aerosol mist before and after spirometry during this test.

You are positive for asthma if the lung function drops by at least 20%. Do not worry about your lungs; a bronchodilator is always given at the end of this test to reverse the effects of methacholine.

Final Words

Your lung doctor will prepare an action plan to take care of your asthma. This includes all the details about your medications and any tips to deal with sudden attacks. Get in touch with our lung doctor in Tomball, TX, from Pulmonary Medical Consultants at (281) 357-1300, opposite Prosperity Bank.


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