You may think of asthma as a childhood condition. Maybe you had a friend in elementary school who couldn’t play at recess or couldn’t have pets for fear of triggering an attack. There’s a reason you relate asthma with childhood — about 7 million American kids from infancy through early teens suffer from it. But you may not realize that adults with asthma outnumber kids more than two to one.
Whether you have adult-onset asthma or have an asthmatic child, our team at Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey can help you manage your symptoms and lead a normal life. We develop a treatment plan specifically designed for you or your child to keep you safe during an acute attack and protected from future attacks. Although asthma in children and adults share some similarities, they also differ in some important ways.
What causes asthma is not fully known, but what triggers it is well documented. Smoke, cold air, pet dander, physical activity, and even stress are just a few of the things that can set off your asthma. Not every asthmatic has the same triggers, but they all have something that gets their asthma symptoms going.
When you’re exposed to your trigger, the lining of your lungs becomes irritated and inflamed, mucous production increases, and your airway muscles constrict. This causes a bout of wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Theories about what causes asthma include family history and predisposition to the disease, hormonal changes, viral infections and illnesses, and long-term exposure to allergens. While asthma can’t be cured, it can be treated.
How childhood and adult-onset asthma are the same
No matter your age, asthma is a lung disorder that needs to be taken seriously and treated medically to avoid life-threatening episodes. It affects about 8% of the US population, which is more than 25 million people, and they all have a few things in common.
Triggers are the environmental conditions that cause your asthma to flare up. Regardless of age, those triggers may include, but are not limited to:
- Dust mites
- Cold, dry air
- Pet dander
- Colds and respiratory infections
Children and adults alike exhibit the same symptoms when they have asthma flare-ups. They may include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Chest tightness and pain
How childhood and adult-onset asthma are different
While children and adults with asthma may share triggers and symptoms, they each have unique characteristics that set them apart.
Asthma is the top reason kids miss school and end up in the emergency room (ER). As their young bodies are developing, children are more sensitive to allergens and other asthma triggers than adults. Here are some aspects of asthma unique to kids:
- Symptoms generally come and go with the triggers and only need intermittent treatment
- More boys than girls have childhood asthma
- Acute asthma attacks account for the majority of urgent care and ER visits
- Children typically grow out of their asthma during or after puberty
It’s not unusual for adults to learn they have asthma at age 30 or 40, or even in their 50s and 60s. Whether they’re experiencing a return of their childhood condition or are facing a first-time bout with asthma, the results are as uncomfortable as the child’s version, but have some distinguishing characteristics:
- Symptoms are generally persistent and require daily medication
- About 30% of attacks are related to allergens
- More women than men have adult-onset asthma
- Hormonal fluctuations contribute to asthma
- Adults don’t grow out of their asthma
Regardless of your age, asthma can strike at any time. If and when it does, our providers at Medical Alliance of Southern New Jersey are here to help you understand your asthma and find the best way to manage your symptoms so you can keep doing the things you love.
We know how frustrating it can be to limit your environment and activity. While it’s always best to avoid your known triggers whenever possible, we offer short- and long-term treatments that free you up to enjoy almost any place or activity.
When you’re ready to break free from the discomfort and limited life of asthma, give our office in Vineland, New Jersey, a call or request an appointment online.