Elderly Asthma:
Symptoms To Watch For

Elderly asthma should not be automatically ruled out when it comes to members of the older generation. Asthma is not a disease just for the very young. Many people perceive that asthma is strictly a childhood illness and this is false. Although asthma has classic symptoms such as wheezing that is seen in many elderly people, it is frequently underreported.

If you know someone who presents with these symptoms then a qualified medical professional should evaluate this person for this illness. He or she can only get better with a proper diagnosis.

The Classic Symptoms Are Still The Same For The Elderly

Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects breathing. Bronchoconstriction and inflammations of the lungs most frequently results in shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. This is how asthma presents itself no matter what the age of the patient is.

Reports that this is a disease that is mainly prevalent in children are incorrect. It has been found to be very evident in elderly people. But some of the symptoms may appear to be from other conditions.

Many Elderly Are Misdiagnosed

A study of a group of people aged seventy-three on average, revealed that only fifty three percent of the patients were correctly diagnosed as being asthmatic. Just short of twenty percent were incorrectly diagnosed as have chronic obstructive airways disease. It was found that these people suffered greater disability as they got older. Due to other chronic condition, many elderly asthmatics tend to underreport their symptoms or attribute it to ageing.

Asthma In The Elderly Can Be Imitated By Other Diseases

Many elderly have multiple medical conditions that can affect how asthma treatment is given. Several cardiac or respiratory diseases can imitate asthma and make it difficult to diagnose asthma. Any older person with asthma needs a systematic approach that takes all of their ailments into account. During diagnosis, other possible diseases have to be ruled out:

  • Shortness Of Breath – In the elderly, it is believed to be a part of ageing. In reality, it is the body trying to get the air which it needs. This is not a normal conditions at any age and the following conditions should be ruled out: COPD, pulmonary embolism, and congestive heart failure.
  • Cough - A cough is the body's way of trying to get rid of the additional mucus or foreign body. Elderly people with a chronic cough should also be evaluated for pneumonia, upper airway cough syndrome, and GERD.
  • Wheezing - Wheezing, the most common symptom of asthma, is caused by the air passing through to the lungs via narrowed airways. It can be also caused by other conditions such as COPD, acute bronchitis, bronchiectasis, pulmonary aspiration, pulmonary embolism, and bronchial tumors.
  • Chest Tightness – This usually means that the lungs are in trouble and that the smaller sacs of the lungs (alveoli) are in distress. Although this symptom can also occur from angina, emphysema, or pneumonia, it requires immediate medical attention.

Elderly Asthma Affects Quality Of Life

Often diagnosis of this condition in more senior members of society does not happen. Often these people deny any symptoms or believe that these symptoms are part of getting old. Apart from not reporting the existence of asthma, many elderly people suffer from depression and cognitive impairment and deny other conditions as well. This usually results in more trips to the emergency room and a higher rate of hospitalization rate.

Many elderly people may report the symptoms but an asthma diagnosis is not made. Since asthma is not always suspected, lung functions are not performed to confirm the diagnosis. Without these tests, older patients do not get the treatment that they need. Instead they suffer in silence with their symptoms.

More Information
On The Safest Asthma Treatments

Elderly With Asthma – How To Get Relief

Elderly Asthma: Symptoms To Watch For

Elderly Asthma: Be Cautious With Medication 

Elderly Asthma: Is It COPD or Asthma? 

Treatment Strategies For Elderly Asthma

Elderly Asthma Products That Help In Times Of Need

Most people find fewer problems with breathing problems when they find an asthma management plan that really works. Read The SAFE Asthma Treatment Guide and discover the four steps to controlling asthma.  With a little help from your doctor and the right plan of action, you can control your wheezing and coughing so that you can breathe easier.

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