Many asthma sufferers develop it in adulthood

April 17, 2009 3:37:35 PM PDT
This time of year, you might think a persistent cough is simply allergies. But more and more adults are finding out a persistent cough may be the first sign of asthma t in adulthood. For 56 year old Joyce Gore spring time means asthma---even before trees start to blossom.

"I would get short of breath if I would dance. I would get winded and that was one of the signs," says Joyce Gore.

Yet, Joyce's asthma started only three years ago.

"I was surprised that I got it late in life but I was exposed to second hand smoke and I thought that could be a contributor," says Joyce.

Dr. Stuart Garay with NYU Medical Center in Manhattan says, however, adult asthma is common and that thirty to forty percent of asthma begins in adulthood. Joyce thinks cigarette smoke may have triggered her disease, and that's not unusual, either.

"An adult will often have an event, whether a respiratory infection, an exposure to some environmental irritant, be it smoke or perfumes and that will precipitate the symptoms," Dr. Garay says.

Symptoms which respond to standard inhaled drugs, some to reduce inflammation and some to open up the airways. The airway dilators can speed the heart, which may complicate treating heart patients.

If Joyce's breathing test at home is normal, she takes her standard drugs. If it's abnormal when she's short of breath, she uses other drugs or goes to the hospital. The key is that adult asthma can be controlled. "Asthma is very treatable and with the right medications, you can lead active productive lives," says Dr. Garay.

Dr. Garay also says adult patients may have other illnesses being treated with other medications. But he notes most asthma drugs are inhaled and act only in the lungs, and that even patients with heart disease can be safely treated for asthma.

Web produced by Maura Sweeney


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