Asthma is often associated with childhood. According to the AAFA, asthma is the leading chronic disease in children affecting 6.2 million of them. However, many adults are diagnosed with asthma as well. Experts call this type of asthma “adult-onset asthma”. These two types of asthma share some of the same characteristics, but they also differ in the way they manifest themselves.
Similarities Between Childhood and Adult-Onset Asthma
Although there are some differences between childhood asthma and adult asthma, there are also many similarities.
1. Asthma Symptoms
Asthma causes your airways to tighten which results in difficulty breathing. The most common similarities between childhood asthma and adult-onset asthma are the symptoms.
- Chest tightness or pressure
- Wheezing when exhaling (sounds like whistling)
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing with or without mucus
- Lingering chest colds
When dealing with these symptoms, some asthmatics find that they feel anxious when they feel an asthma attack coming on. This adds to the already serious situation. To relieve some of this stress, it is important for people with asthma to closely work with a doctor to create an asthma action plan to manage their symptoms.
2. Asthma Triggers
Childhood and adult-onset asthma also have many of the same triggers. Triggers are anything that irritates the lungs, decreases lung function, and causes you to have an asthma attack. These triggers often vary from person to person, but some common triggers include:
- Weed, tree, or grass pollen
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
- Chemical fumes
- Strong odors like perfumes
- Secondhand smoke
Sometimes changes in seasons affect asthma as well. The cold air of winter and the budding trees in spring will often irritate the lungs of asthmatics.
3. Asthma Treatments
Children and adults who are diagnosed with asthma will find that their treatments are similar, although treatment of your asthma may change over time. Your doctor will prescribe the medications and inhalers that will best suit your needs. While taking these medications will help, daily management is key to managing asthma. Keep track of your symptoms and have an action plan in place so you can quickly resolve any asthma flare-ups. Many have found at-home spirometry helps with respiratory management.
Differences Between Childhood and Adult Asthma
Although childhood and adult asthma have many similarities, they still have their own unique characteristics.
Many children that are diagnosed with asthma find that their asthma symptoms are somewhat sporadic. A child may have bouts of asthma symptoms followed by a time of no symptoms at all.
As younger children grow, exposure to allergens in the air often affect them negatively and cause many of their asthma attacks. However, as they grow older and reach puberty many asthma symptoms disappear. Although their asthma may disappear for a while, it is possible for them to have an asthma recurrence later on in life.
Unlike the sporadic symptoms of childhood asthma, adult-onset asthma has persistent symptoms that don’t seem to go away. Daily management is key to staying on top of your asthma. This helps you stay on top of your symptoms before they get out of control. Adults are particularly susceptible to allergens in the air and should try to identify which ones trigger attacks.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that adult asthma is more common among women than men and that African-Americans die from asthma complications more often than any other race. Hormones may also play a role in the development of adult asthma.
Once an adult develops asthma, it won’t simply go away like it so often does in childhood. Adult asthma must be carefully maintained to give you the best quality of life.
Common Questions about Childhood and Adult-Onset Asthma
Being informed is one of your best tools in managing you or your child’s asthma. Here are some frequently asked questions about childhood and adult-onset asthma.
1. How does asthma develop in children?
Medical scientists are still finding more out about childhood asthma each year. So far, they have found that genetics play a huge role in the development of childhood asthma. This means that their asthma develops due to an inherited gene from one of their parents.
2. Can my child be “cured” of their asthma?
We currently do not have a cure for asthma. Oftentimes pubescent children seem to grow out of their asthma but find that their asthma reoccurs as an older adult.
3. What causes adult-onset asthma?
Sometimes it is difficult to say how adult asthma has developed, but several factors often play into its diagnosis. Suffering from bouts of respiratory illnesses like chest colds and the flu can increase your risk of developing this type of asthma. Also, workplace hazards contribute to adult asthma. Those who have exposure over a long period of time to hazardous chemicals may develop asthma as a result. Adults who suffer from severe allergies are also at a higher risk for adult asthma development.