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Adult Onset Asthma

Adult onset asthma is a type of asthma that develops when you grow older, typically above 20 or even above 50 years of age. Patients suffering from adult onset asthma do not show any symptoms of asthma during childhood, but they develop it in the adult stage.

It is very easy diagnosing asthma when it occurs in childhood, but when it comes to adult onset asthma, it is a bit difficult, because the capacity of the lungs to inhale and exhale air normally decreases with age. This decreased capacity of the lungs in adults makes it hard to distinguish it from the onset of the disease.

Responsible factors

Several factors might increase the chances of developing adult onset asthma. A few among them are discussed below:

Hormonal changes in Women:

Women are prone to hormonal changes unlike men, especially during pregnancy and menopause. These fluctuating hormonal levels might sometimes be the trigger factor. Women are prescribed to take estrogen in order to overcome the difficulties associated with menopause. This intake of estrogen for 10 years or more can also influence the onset of the disease.

However, this does not mean that men will never develop adult onset asthma, there are several other factors that might trigger this disease.

Environmental factors:

Being continuously prone to a substance, like tobacco, dust, flame or any other chemical substance, might also be a trigger factor. Pollution is also a serious cause of concern for such people, because it unknowingly brings adult onset asthma.


More than half of the people, who have acquired adult onset asthma, are found to have a prior history of allergies. People with cat allergies have shown to develop asthma in adulthood increasingly than otherwise. However, there is no proper evidence to prove this.


Obesity is also one of the major causes of concern, because people with excess weight get tired very easily, which leads to shorter breath. Therefore, it is always better to keep a check on the weight after a certain age.

Hereditary Factor:

If the family has shown pre-dominant adult onset asthma history, then a person shows a higher risk of acquiring it, when compared to others.


People, who have developed infections, such as cold or flu recently, also have higher chances.


Certain medicines, like aspirin, oral beta-blockers, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, etc, which have been used for other purposes, might also be the trigger factor for developing asthma in adults.

There are several unknown causes for developing adult onset asthma, but once you are diagnosed with it, make sure to follow a healthy lifestyle, so that you can stay away from severe attacks. A complete cure for the disease is not yet available, but it can be kept in control with certain breathing exercises.

Even if the symptoms do not persist, the condition still exists from within and may develop any time, when you get older and older.


The symptoms of adult onset asthma are given below:

  1. Chest tightness
  2. Coughing, especially at night or early in the morning
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Tightness in the chest
  5. Wheezing
  6. Trouble breathing when exposed to dust, cold weather, smoke, certain smells or perfumes

Management of adult onset asthma

The management of it is similar to other types of asthma. Depending on the severity of the health condition, the doctor will prescribe preventer or rescue inhalers.

There are two types of medication that might be required, which are anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators. Anti-inflammatory drugs alleviate inflammation and bronchodilators ease in breathing.

Treatment goals

  1. To live a normal and active life
  2. To prevent deterioration of health conditions
  3. To relieve troublesome symptoms
  4. To make patients capable of performing their daily routine activities

Adjustment of medication to combat asthma with no or little side effects