Asthma that is diagnosed in people over the age of 20 is called adult-onset asthma. The symptoms, including chest tightness, difficulty breathing and wheezing, can come on suddenly and may be the result of commonplace substances at work or in your home. Asthma that results from exposure to something in your workplace is called “occupational asthma.” About half of those with adult-onset asthma also have allergies.

Among those adults who are most likely to be diagnosed with adult-onset asthma, there are some groups that are more susceptible to the disease including:

  • Women who are experiencing hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy or menopause or have taken estrogen for 10 years or more post-menopause.
  • People who have just experienced certain illnesses like a cold or the flu.
  • People with allergies, particularly to cats.
  • People who are regularly exposed to irritants as a result of the work or home environment including second-hand smoke, harsh chemicals, mold, dust, perfumes and more.

If you suspect that you may be experiencing adult-onset asthma symptoms, call your doctor right away. He or she will perform a series of tests, including a lung function test and a methacoline challenge test, as well as a chest x-ray to determine a diagnosis. Upon diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to determine the best course of treatment based on the severity of your asthma and will help you put together an asthma action plan designed to help you control and manage your symptoms.

To learn more about controlling adult-onset asthma or if you could be at risk for the disease, visit us online www.breathepa.org or give us a call at 1-800-220-1990.