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Why asthma becomes a more serious problem for older adults?

By AGE2B team
February 1, 2022

Asthma in older adults is a serious problem that increases with a rise in the longevity of the worldwide population. In addition, there was an asthma epidemic in the 1980s, and children who lived through it will be aged 64 years and older by 2030, which will significantly contribute to a gradual expansion in the numbers of older people with the disease. In high-income countries, the prevalence of asthma in older adults is between 6% and 10%. In the age group of 64–75 years, the condition predominates in women, but after 75 years, there is no significant difference between sexes. About two-thirds of asthma-related deaths occur in people aged 65 years or older. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the improvement of asthma care in older age groups.

In humans, the lungs continue to mature until about 20 years old in women and 25 years old in men. After that, aging starts, which is associated with a progressive weakening in lung function. Age-related changes lead to the reduction of lung tissue efficiency that requires increased work of breathing. Muscles for performing such work might also experience degenerative changes. Furthermore, there is an association between aging and immunological changes that cause inflammation in the lungs. It can affect the risks of developing the disease or its severity.

Asthma is a chronic condition in which normal airflow is disrupted by changes in the respiratory tract, such as cellular inflammation and structural modifications of the airway walls. It causes episodical shortness of breath as well as coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness. It is not fully understood what all causes of asthma are, but it is known that genetic, environmental, and occupational factors play a role in developing the disease. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also common among older people. It can overlap with asthma, which makes it difficult to diagnose the condition correctly. Unfortunately, it is one of the reasons for increased mortality in older patients who are underdiagnosed and undertreated for their asthma.

If you have asthma, you might experience asthma attacks that are triggered by various factors. Tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers. Not only smoking itself but also being around someone who smokes can be harmful to you. Outdoor air pollution can trigger an asthma attack as well. It is hard to avoid it in big cities, but you can try to minimize this factor according to your living environment. Having asthma and an allergy to dust mites can cause the attack as well. Furry pets that you are allergic to are also considered as a potential risk factor. Many other things can put a patient with asthma at risk. Therefore, it is essential to know your personal triggers and learn to avoid them.

Since there are various reasons for developing asthma, there are also different ways of managing the condition. All medications should be prescribed by a doctor considering any individual circumstances. Generally, there are two types of asthma medicines: quick-relief and long-term control. The first type is used for effectively managing asthma attacks. In contrast, the second type will not help you to combat the attack, but it is used to reduce the number and severity of the attacks. With the help of a health care provider, you can create your own asthma action plan. It is a vital tool in managing the condition.

National Asthma Control Program (NACP) was created in 1999 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its purpose is to help the millions of people with asthma in the United States manage their disease. CDC addresses the intersection of public health and health care by funding various programs and national organizations. It promotes asthma quality measures and informs policymakers about the burden of asthma. More information about the NACP you can find on the official website of CDC.

Remember that you can control your asthma. Look for medical help to improve your health and life quality.

1. Asthma in older adults
2. Learn How to Control Asthma

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