Age or Asthma: What's Making You Short of Breath?

The problem is that many health experts think of asthma as a disease that only affects younger people. Therefore, they may discount the possibility of asthma symptoms in older patients and instead attribute changes in lung function to age-related causes.

The truth is that asthma isn't limited to younger generations. In fact, the first asthma symptoms often don't appear until people reach middle age, according to researchers from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Asthma Symptoms in Seniors

There are several reasons why senior citizens are particularly susceptible to asthma symptoms:

  • Lung function and structure changes with age, which can make you more vulnerable to asthma symptoms.
  • Some common medications used to address age-related health issues (including aspirin and beta blockers) can lead to asthma symptoms, including wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Many doctors dismiss the signs of allergies in seniors. Doctors leave this condition untreated and seniors end up with more severe symptoms.

The Dangers of Untreated Asthma Symptoms

When asthma symptoms in older patients aren't recognized, this leaves a population of vulnerable people who don't have access to necessary treatments.

This is particularly worrisome since asthma symptoms worsen at the highest rate among older patients. Further, senior citizens are at greater risk of death from this condition. This serves as a warning call to the medical community to take into account the dangers of asthma in older people.

What You Should Know

If you have shortness of breath and other asthma-like symptoms, it's crucial to take them seriously and talk to your doctor about how best to address the problem. The good news is that with proper treatment, you can manage your asthma and in the process, improve your quality of life and reduce your related health risks.


Saint Louis University