Asthma is often associated with younger children. Asthma in seniors, however, is more common than you think. Find out what you need to know about asthma in seniors.
Asthma is a respiratory disease characterized by increased responsiveness to stimuli such as irritants and allergens that affect and obstruct the airways. Responsiveness to these stimuli can cause the muscles in the respiratory airways to become constricted and inflamed, as well as have increased mucous secretions. The result is coughing, wheezing and breathing difficulties which are the most common symptoms of asthma.
Asthma in Seniors
While many experience asthma at a very young age, this disease can develop in anyone at any time of their lives. For seniors, it is not uncommon for them to develop asthma for the first time. In this case, the symptoms are similar to those who are younger and has asthma.
Causes of asthma include:
- exercise or strenuous activity
- dust mites
- chemical fumes and perfumes
Those who are exposed to these and more other irritants and allergens can exhibit symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, tightness of chest, increased mucous production, shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
For older adults, having asthma can present a whole range of challenges as asthma in seniors can cause respiratory failure even with mild attacks or symptoms. This is because older people with asthma can have a mild asthma attack but experience symptoms that are similar to those of younger people who are having a serious or severe asthma episode.
However, it is harder to detect in older adults especially seniors because they are more inactive than younger people, and therefore, the symptoms may not easily present themselves. Furthermore, the increased mucous or sputum in seniors can be brushed aside as a different problem. Furthermore, asthma symptoms can mimic those of other elderly diseases such as emphysema.
Asthma Symptoms to Watch Out For
The following are asthma symptoms to look out for in the elderly:
- episodic wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing, increased sputum
- recurrent coughing and wheezing
- symptoms worsen at night, while being active or when in contact with allergens or irritants
- relatives also have asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis and allergies
While this can help you tell if your elderly loved one has asthma, it is still best to consult a doctor or a pulmonologist when it comes to asthma in seniors. They can help you create a management and treatment plan to reduce flare-ups and relieve them of asthma symptoms. Such asthma treatments can also help prevent a simple attack from having complications such as respiratory failure, which can happen with seniors.