Elderly Asthma
How To Get Relief

What Is Elderly Asthma?

Elderly asthma is a disorder that affects how many older people live on a daily basis. It is a chronic respiratory disorder that affects breathing and quality of life.

Elderly asthma can be helped. If you know an older person who has difficulty breathing, do not assume that he or she cannot have asthma. 

Even though asthma is known as a childhood illness, more of the elderly population are being diagnosed with it.

It is reported that seventeen percent of Americans suffer from asthma. And last year there was a sharp rise in elderly who suffered from this ailment. In the United States, more than one million people over the age of 65 were discovered to have asthma.

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.

Things You Should Know:

  • Classic Symptoms Are The Same For The Aged
  • How The Elderly Are Misdiagnosed
  • Is It COPD or Asthma?
  • SAFE Treatments For Elderly Asthma
  • Treatment Can Be Difficult For The Elderly
  • Preventing Elderly Asthma: Products That Help In Times Of Need

Classic Symptoms Are The Same
For The Older Generation

    Elderly asthma is a disorder that affects how many older people live on a daily basis. It is a chronic respiratory disorder that affects breathing and quality of life.

    During an asthma attack, bronchoconstriction and swelling of the lungs frequently result in: 

  • shortness of breath
  • coughing 
  • wheezing. 

This is how asthma presents itself no matter what the age of the patient is.

Although asthma elderly is underreported, it continues to affect 4-6% of the American population. Both diseases have a different prognosis and treatment options. Because it is reversible with right medication, asthma has a better prognosis than COPD. 

Many elderly people may report the symptoms but sometiimes an asthma diagnosis is not made. Since this illness is better known as a childhood disease, many of the elderly population are not diagnosed. 

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.

How Many Elderly Are Misdiagnosed?

Asthma is a respiratory disease that affects breathing. 

Many reports say that this is a disease for only children and they would be incorrect. It is very evident in elderly people. The problem is that some of the symptoms are similiar to other conditions.

A study of a group of people aged seventy-three, 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.

Many elderly have multiple medical conditions that can affect how treatment is given. Several cardiac or respiratory diseases can imitate asthma and make it difficult to diagnose it. 

  • 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 condition 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 - It is the most common symptom of asthma. It 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.

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.

With proper education, the right medications, and preventative measures, older members with asthma can live safely with this breathing disorder. 

Elderly Asthma: Is It COPD or Asthma?

Believe it or not, elderly asthma can be overlooked. It is often confused with chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the lungs.

Both asthma and COPD are common among the elderly. The symptoms of asthma and COPD are similar in that decreased lung function, obstructed airflow, and shortness of breath. And of course there is coughing and wheezing. This is probably why these two conditions get confused.

But then they begin to differ …. both diseases have different causes, physiology, and prognosis. While asthma is usually a natural overreaction to certain substances such as pollen, COPD is often caused by a lifetime of smoking. COPD causes irritation to the lungs to the point where it is permanently inflamed. Asthma is reversible with medication while COPD sadly is not.

A Proper Diagnosis Is Difficult But Necessary

During a routine doctor visit, it is very difficult to differentiate between elderly asthma and COPD. 

Asthma is seen as an illness of the young and frequently overlooked during a physical examination. Shortness of breath and wheezing are sometimes confused in the elderly or they are seen as a natural part of the aging process. For that reason many elderly patients fail to report them to their doctors.

If you suspect that an older person has asthma then you should closely monitor the symptoms. If this person has this treatable illness, he or she does not have to suffer in silence.

An Asthma Specialist Can Tell The Difference

With the right tests, you can know if your parent or grandparent is suffering with elderly asthma.

A careful examination of medical history and physical examination will show a difference. A qualified medical professional can tell the difference. Although the two have similar symptoms, asthma will respond better to medications than does COPD. Basically a treatment of asthma bronchodilators will reverse the symptoms in asthma but this does not happen in COPD.

The Right Treatment Plan Can Result In Better Quality Of Life

Both diseases have a different prognosis and treatment options. Any older person with asthma needs a systematic approach that takes all of their ailments into account. 

If you know an older person with difficulty breathing, don’t assume that it is COPD or emphysema. It could be elderly asthma. 

He or she should seek an asthma doctor so that the right treatment can be given.

SAFE Treatments For Elderly Asthma

The basic treatment strategies for this mature population are ongoing education, the daily use of peak flow meter, and proper medical treatment.

The ultimate goal is for the sufferer to control symptoms and have a normal life.

Since many people from the older population suffer from multiple illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, etc., they are sometimes limited on how to approach treatment for asthma.

Step 1: A Correct Diagnosis Of Asthma Means  A Fresh Start

During diagnosis, a spirometer can be used to confirm the presence of obstructive disease of the airways. It can also be utilized to follow the severity of the symptoms. This is sometime difficult since some elderly patients have decrease muscle tone and has trouble with the blowing into a peak flow meter.

For the elderly, proper education must include a thorough explanation of the disease and treatment options. Due to the fact this group tend to have a long medical history, they have to be taught about careful administration of medications, possible side effects, and possible interactions with other drugs.

Family members need to be educated also. Depending on the physical or mental condition of an elderly person, he or she may need assistance in completing treatment.

Step 2: Medical Treatment Is Given To Treat Symptoms Quickly

A thorough medical history and physical assessment should be performed on anyone seeking to manage asthma symptoms.  For an elderly person, predisposing factors will dictate the treatment options. For example, certain individuals will not be able to use hand-held dose inhaler because of medical conditions such as arthritis. 

The best option for an elderly person is to have  a friend or family who can assist in that person’s care. Since asthma is a chronic respiratory illness that requires close monitoring, it is important to have someone who can supervise the care. 

Like many asthmatics, an elderly person should be assessed for proper administration of medication. Asthma medication is not effective if it is not taken properly. 

Any medical professional prescribing a hand-held asthma medication such as MDI (metered dose inhaler) should check for proper usage. Many elderly face difficulty in using this device because of joint problems such as arthritis. They do not have the strength in their hands to handle the device. In this type of situation, this type of medication is useless. A spacer device could easily solve this problem.

Step 3: Create An Effective Plan Of Care 

Proper management includes a comprehensive evaluation of all disease processes that a person may have. The treatment should also include a plan of care that prevents and treats ongoing symptoms.

Asthma elderly presents with a unique situation. Although the symptoms can be reduced by an early diagnosis, many medical treatments are limited in the elderly population. 

With the right asthma action plan, the symptoms can be controlled. But an elderly person with asthma will need a proper diagnose to give the best treatment plan.

Step 4: Include Ongoing Education And Close Monitoring

Asthma elderly presents with a unique situation. Ongoing education plays a key part of treating elderly asthma

Although the symptoms can be reduced by an early diagnosis, many medical treatments are limited in the elderly population. 

Unlike other age group, the elderly frequently has multiple medical conditions and this must be taken into consideration. Certain medications are incompatible with asthma and can bring about attacks. Medical treatment should be based upon a person’s asthma and medical history.

Family members need to be educated also. Depending on the physical or mental condition of an elderly person, he or she may need assistance in completing treatment.

Treatment Can Be Difficult For The Elderly

Although the elderly population need asthma medication to treat symptoms, it can be dangerous for their general health. When it comes to medication, it should be done carefull. 

They have a unique situation that can put their lives in danger. 

Careful Medical Treatment Is Vital To Treating This Illness Quickly

When it comes to the elderly, medication has to be prescribed with care. Asthma medication forms a unique risk for older people. It is not absorbed into the body like younger people. 

Organs such as the heart are more vulnerable to side effects and the liver takes longer to filter out medication. This presents a higher risk for tachycardia, a fast heart rate, or palpitations which are irregular heartbeats.

Unlike other age group, the elderly frequently has multiple medical conditions and this must be taken into consideration. Certain medications are incompatible with asthma and can bring about attacks. Medical treatment should be based upon a person’s asthma and medical history. It should include a risk assessment for adverse drug interactions and potential side effects in elderly population.

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. 

The Elderly 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.

Like many asthmatics, an elderly person should be assessed for proper administration of medication. Asthma medication is not effective if it is not taken properly. 

Coexisting Medical Conditions Can Cause Additional Problems

The elderly population does not handle drug treatment like a young person can. Their metabolism is very different and can affect medical treatment. 

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.

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.

Preventing Elderly Asthma: 
Asthma Products Than Can Help

Asthma is not a problem just for the young. Managing elderly asthma with appropriate treatment will ensure that many older people will have a better quality of life. Proper asthma management is centered around avoiding triggers, having an asthma action plan, and seeking help, when necessary. 

Managing elderly asthma with appropriate treatment will ensure that many older people will have a better quality of life. 

This should include a peak flow to measure lung capacity, a nebulizer system to immediately treat symptoms, and a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels.

• An Air Cleaner That Removes Airborne Triggers

A highly efficient air cleaner was created specifically for allergy and asthma sufferers. Using High Efficiency Gas Absorption (HEGA) and medical HEPA filtration, this unit removes particulates and gaseous contaminants from the air quickly, before they can trigger an allergy attack.

• Allergy Bedding That Is Comfortable And Free From Chemicals

Pure and natural organic cotton sheets are free from chemicals, dyes, resins, finishes and bleaches. These organic cotton sheet sets are the perfect choice for anyone who suffer from asthma, allergies, or have sensitive skin. 

Designed for people suffering from allergies, asthma, eczema and other dust related allergies. 

These comfortable allergy pillows are covered with Pristine allergy fabric, a soft, woven, dust mite-proof fabric. They are filled with polyester fabric that is non-allergenic, odorless, resilient and lightweight. Machine washable. 

• A Small Nebulizer That Is Light And Portable

It turns asthma medication into a fine mist so that it can go directly to the lungs. This nebulizer is perfect for anyone with elderly asthma.

DeVilbiss Traveler Compressor Nebulizer  is one of the smallest compressor nebulizers on the market. It weighs less than a pound and is smaller than a standard size postcard. The Traveler is the perfect travel companion that makes it easier and more convenient than ever to nebulize when they're away from home.

• A Holding Chamber Designed For Weaker Lungs

A holding chamber designed for weaker lungs. It delivers the smaller medication particles so that it reaches deep into the airways of the lungs. Anyone with elderly asthma should have a holding chamber. 

Why? Because it helps any older person get more medicine, and it decreases the residue in the mouth. OptiChamber Valved Holding Chamber is for use with metered does inhalers. 

• A Peak Flow That Measures Lung Strength

A peak flow is a small device that shows how well your lungs are working. Used on a daily basis, a peak flow meter can tell when your asthma symptoms are getting worse. The Microlife is a great tool for managing elderly asthma at home. 

Asthma medication forms a unique risk for older people. When it comes to the elderly, medication has to be prescribed with care. It is not absorbed into the body like younger people. Organs such as the heart are more vulnerable to side effects and the liver takes longer to filter out medication. This presents a higher risk for tachycardia, a fast heart rate, or palpitations which are irregular heartbeats.

Unfortunately the elderly population may have some issues with asthma treatments. 

Even with education, an elderly person with asthma may have difficulty with medication. There are several issues such as miscommunication, drug incapability, and non-compliance that can stop an elderly person from receiving proper treatment. 

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


Different asthma types have different treatments. Although most people think all types are the same, each person has unique triggers and reactions. No two asthma sufferers are alike. If you want to learn about the several types of asthma and treatment options, take a peek at: 

Infant Asthma: Know The Treatments

Learn About Childhood Asthma Sooner

A Guide To Adult Onset Asthma

Elderly Asthma: How To Get Relief 

Pregnancy Asthma: Is It A Problem

Occupational Asthma: Is Your Job Harmful?

Surgery Asthma Can Affect Your Recovery

Exercise Asthma: Is The Silent Trigger?

Seasonal Asthma Can Be A Bad Enemy


Many people with asthma find fewer complications when they find a 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 so that you can breathe easier.

And remember … any asthma treatment prescribed by a physician should always be taken as ordered, even if there are no symptoms. Your doctor is the gatekeeper to keeping you healthy.

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Top Asthma Products

 Top Nebulizers   Nebulizers deliver asthma medicine and treat your bad symptoms when you need it.

 Peak Flow Meter       Every morning you can track your breathing problems and treatments that work.


Asthma Prevention

Air Cleaners For Allergy Sufferers

HEPA Vacuum Cleaners

     Allergy Bedding  Every night it blocks allergens and reduce breathing problems.

  Asthma Herbs      Asthma herbs relax the lungs and help to prevent future attacks.

Allergy Masks  -Protection from the dangerous allergens that trigger asthma attacks.

Allergy Cleaners

Pet Allergy Products

Mold  Removal   Stop  mold before it  triggers a bad allergic reaction.