While asthma is more common in children than in adults, the truth of the matter is that asthma can develop at any time. When asthma is developed later in life, after the age of 20, it is known as adult onset asthma. While this may not seem like a serious issue, asthma can have negative effects among adults over the age of 50. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as five percent of U.S. adults suffer from adult onset asthma.
At The Allergy and Asthma Center of Corpus Christi, we’re proud to offer asthma care and evaluations to both children and adults. If you or a loved one is constantly coughing, wheezing, or having a difficult time breathing, schedule an appointment with our experts today.
What Exactly Is Asthma?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. In order to understand adult onset asthma, it’s important to know how our airways actually work. The airways are tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. When these airways become inflamed or irritated, it can make it extremely difficult to breath. As the airways react, the muscles around them will start to tighten, causing less airflow into the lungs. Let’s look at how asthma affects your airways:
- Your airways can become swollen or inflamed
- You may produce large amounts of mucus that can be difficult to swallow
- Your airways become more narrow due to muscle contractions
What Causes Adult Onset Asthma?
Unlike childhood asthma, adult onset asthma does not run in families. Instead, there are many other factors that can be linked to asthma during adulthood. Let’s look at some common causes of adult onset asthma below:
- Certain Work Environments – In a majority of adult onset asthma cases, adults experience symptoms of asthma while they are on the job. Whether you work in a manufacturing facility or corporate office, if there are chemicals or allergens in the area you will likely experience triggering symptoms of asthma.
Cigarette Smoking – If you’re a smoker, you already know the damaging effects that smoking can have on your heart, lungs, and health. The risk of developing adult onset asthma is very high for people who smoke. Let’s look at some statistics:
- For people who smoke one to 10 packs of cigarettes a year, you are two times more likely to get adult onset asthma.
- If you smoke 11 to 20 packs a year, your risk of asthma is 3.7 times higher.
- For people who smoke over 21 packs a year, you are five times more likely to develop asthma.
If you suffer from adult onset asthma, it may be time to reach out to a medical professional. The first step in treating asthma is to avoid known triggers, and if you are exposed to different chemicals and allergens day in and day out, you may never be able to find the root cause of your asthma. If you’re ready to take control of your asthma, schedule an appointment with The Allergy and Asthma Center of Corpus Christi today!