Adults just as susceptible to asthma

Research initiatives conducted over the past decade have defied conventional opinions about asthma demographics. In reality, adults are just as susceptible as children to the pre-existing conditions, irritants, and other factors that produce asthma symptoms.

For many physicians, it's important to educate asthma patients on their environment to help them understand their risks. The environmental factors that produce asthma in adults are present in the home as well as the workplace.

The Environmental Protection Agency's website refers to several “asthma triggers” in the home that have been directly correlated to increased asthma diagnoses in adults. Secondhand smoke, a 4,000-ingredient-strong carcinogenic irritant, excites asthmatic reactions in both children and adults. Other potent triggers that the EPA exposed include mold, pets, dust mite and nitrogen dioxide.

“Quality of Life of Adults with Workplace Exacerbation of Asthma,” a 2007 journal publication featured in “Quality of Life Research” by Elizabeth P. Lowery, also cites a number workplace irritants, such as commercial refrigerants, as a common cause of adult asthma. While environmental irritants comprise most of the causation, pre-established allergies and genetics also increase the likelihood of developing adult asthma.

In the latest national asthma report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 24.4 million American adults were diagnosed with asthma. The study also indicated that asthma-related deaths were higher in adults than children, and that the United States spends over $30 billion a year combating the disorder.

Similar to asthma in children, adult asthma involves the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, inhibiting normal breathing. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology lists wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing in their studies as the most common asthma symptoms among children and adults.

These symptoms most often surface episodically, with varying degrees of severity. In some cases, as the Academy adds, symptoms can be induced by exercise and allergen exposure.

When labored breathing of any kind becomes a problem, seek immediate medical consultation. Even if it isn't a manifestation of adult asthma, a compromised airway always constitutes a medical emergency.

If ignored or dismissed as a mild cold, asthma can combine with an allergic reaction to put a victim in anaphylactic shock, where the throat glands swell and threaten to completely restrict the airway.

The Internet Journal of Academic Physician Assistants places the natural segmentation of asthma sufferers into “persistent” and “intermittent” categories to best prescribe treatment. Patients with intermittent episodes or attacks are given as-needed SABAs or short-acting β2-adrenergic agonists.

These drugs, often administered via inhaler, are engineered to quell the inflammation and leave the patient's system with minimal side effects. The journal then details that persistent sufferers are most often given a combination of inhaled corticosteroids and LABAs, or long-acting β2-adrenergic agonists to manage the disorder over time. Consult your doctor to decide which treatment is right for you.

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