Asthma in the Elderly
Wheezing is commonly associated as a childhood symptom, but people may be surprised to know that chronic wheezing affects up to 13% of adults in the U.S. over the age of 65. In fact, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, adult patients are four times more likely to die from asthma than children. Confounded with the fact that the population of people aged 65 and older is predicted to triple within the next 30 years, the respiratory care community has a dilemma on their hands.
According to medical professionals, asthma in the older population is a challenge to diagnosed and under treated because it often coincides with other common illnesses such as obesity and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As a result, asthma is often difficult to spot in older adults, even though studies have shown it to have a detrimental effect on their quality of life.
Unfortunately, older asthma patients are less likely to tell their healthcare provider about their asthma symptoms, possibly due to fear or denial — and if they do report them, it is often as part of a myriad of other symptoms.
If you're suffering from breathlessness and have difficulty breathing, don't assume it is merely a consequence of getting older. Asthma can affect people of any age, but maintenance medication can drastically improve your quality of life and reduce the severity of your symptoms. It is essential to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, and if possible, keep a diary that details circumstances when your wheezing is worse. This can help your healthcare provider create an effective asthma care plan that fits into your lifestyle.
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