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Age and Asthma

Many people think of asthma as a childhood disease, but it often occurs as a new condition in older adults.

Asthma in older adults presents some special concerns because the normal effects of aging can make asthma harder to diagnose.

It also can be hard to distinguish asthma from heart failure, which can cause wheezing, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can cause a chronic cough.

A correct diagnosis is critical because the treatment of these diseases is very different.

Asthma symptoms

  • Coughing, especially at night

  • Wheezing

  • Chest tightness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Breathing faster than normal

  • Getting out of breath easily

  • Feeling tired or weak

If you have any of these symptoms, see your health care provider.

Taking care

As you learn to recognize your first signs of asthma, you can take additional medication to prevent a serious asthma exacerbation.

Before you begin any asthma treatment, be sure your doctor knows about all the medications you take because asthma drugs can have adverse side effects when taken with other medications.

It is important to learn correct inhaler technique before starting medications for asthma. Be sure that your doctor helps you understand which medicines you may need and the correct way to take your medicine. You may see an allergist to make the diagnosis and treatment plan for asthma.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 7/14/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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