Elderly Asthma:
Be Cautious With Medication

The treatment of elderly asthma should be done carefully when it comes to medication. They have a unique situation that can put their lives in danger.

Although the elderly population need asthma medication to treat symptoms, it can be dangerous. The elderly population does not handle drug treatment like a young person can. Their metabolism is very different and can affect medical treatment.

Medication in the elderly should not be overused as they may worsen a medical condition. Several medications are known to trigger an attack. For example, beta-blocking agents for hypertension have been associated with causing or worsening asthma symptoms.

Short-Acting Medication Can Stop Symptoms Immediately

Bronchodilators, which are usually given for a short period of time, reverse the tightness of the lung airways by relaxing the muscles. When symptoms initially appear, a patient is given a medication, such as albuterol, to open the airways and relieve the symptoms. Theophylline should be used carefully with the elderly population. Although it may be needed for quick relief of symptoms, older patient are more vulnerable to theophylline’s side effects. These include nausea, diarrhea, increase in heart rate, arrhythmias, and liver disease.

Long-Acting Medication Can Prevent Future Attacks

Anti-inflammatory medications, which are prescribed for a longer period, stop future attacks by decreasing the overall redness and swelling of the lungs. Inhaled beta2-agonists is the drug of choice for long-term asthma management in the elderly. This version goes directly into the lungs and has minimal effects on the bodily system. The possible side effects include hypokalemia, tremor, and hypoxemia.

In contrast, the oral long-acting beta2-agonists should be avoided. The metabolic rate of an elderly person usually does not tolerate this medication well and it may result in tremors, high heart rate, and increased blood pressure.

Inhaled Steriods Are Safe To Reduce Inflammation

When diagnostic tests show that asthma is a severe problem in an elderly person, a different form of medication has to be used. This type of steroid reduces the hypersensitivity of the lungs and consequently the overreaction to triggers. Inhaled corticosteroids offer the best form of asthma management for different age groups. For the elderly it provides the least risk for a bad reaction.

On the other hand, oral corticosteroids are not recommended. They tend to negatively affect the whole bodily systems and have increased risks for side effects. Side effects include hypertension (high blood pressure), hypokalemia (low potassium levels in the blood), hypernatremia (high sodium levels in the blood), and osteoporosis. </p>

Adverse Side Effects To Watch For With Elderly Asthma

The elderly population must be carefully monitored for side effects. The risk of an adverse reaction from asthma treatment increases as the years go by. Side effects should be mentioned at each doctor visit. These may include a new cough, decreased exercise tolerance, a high heart rate, or shortness of breath. Since drug interactions are always a potential issue, all medications should also be evaluated at every examination.

Coexisting Medical Conditions Cause Additional Concerns

Elderly asthma limits the choice, dosage, and frequency of medications. A small change in the metabolic rate of a person can cause an adverse reaction to medication. Therefore potential effects should be monitored routinely through physical examinations and laboratory tests.

Overall, the goal of medical treatment is to control asthmatic symptoms as well as stop any possible future episodes. With the elderly, this comes with an increased risk. It is very important to monitor the dosage and side effects of any asthma medication that is prescribed. But with close medical supervision, elderly asthma can be safely managed.


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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