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Senior Health: How Those Over 65 Are Affected by Asthma

By Jonathan Wells, 9:00 am on

Asthma is an inflammatory disease characterized by constriction of the airways of the respiratory tract. It can lead to breathing difficulties, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. The condition impacts close to 2 million American adults over the age of 65, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma can cause minor irritation in some patients while others may experience serious and life-threatening complications. Read on to learn more about how asthma impacts senior health, presented by experienced Douglas County home care professionals.

Causes

Asthma can develop at any age. Exposure to specific allergens or irritants, including pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mold and smoke, can trigger the symptoms in the elderly. Excessive physical activity, common cold, acid reflux, certain medications and extreme stress can also initiate an asthma attack.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of asthma in older adults can be challenging as the symptoms mimic other conditions such as heart disease and emphysema. Many elderly men and women with asthma may also have cough and sputum, and the physician may misdiagnose it as chronic bronchitis. It is, therefore, important to ask the right questions.

Ideally, your doctor will perform a thorough physical examination to rule out respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). You may also be given a lung function test to assess the amount of air flowing through your airways. The clinician may also rely on nitric oxide test, imaging studies, methacholine challenge and other tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

Your physician may prescribe inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, long-acting beta-antagonists, and combination inhalers to manage the condition. Oral and intravenous corticosteroids may be prescribed for immediate relief. Some older adults have difficulty using the inhaler or remembering the medication regimen. Your asthma medications may lead to side effects and may also interact with other medications that you might be taking. Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

You should also request a change in asthma treatment if your symptoms worsen, if you are required to go to the emergency room more than twice in a year, if asthma wakes you up at night more than twice in a month, or if you need a rescue inhaler to control the symptoms more than two times in a week.

Asthma can be managed effectively with right treatment. However, even a simple respiratory infection can lead to it, especially in the elderly. Both the patients and the caregivers, should, therefore, exercise caution at all times.

Learn more about elderly health and wellness from the friendly staff at Home Care Assistance. We provide a variety of care services for seniors, including Alzheimer’s and dementia care Douglas County families trust, on an hourly or live-in basis. Our care services are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee and we never ask clients to sign long-term contracts. Call 720-287-1685 today and schedule a free consultation to learn more.