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Adult Asthma, Symptoms and Treatment

Adult Asthma, Symptoms and Treatment

The renowned Asthma Center at NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island, NY offers the most advanced diagnostic testing and innovative treatments for adult asthma. The Center brings together physicians from allergy, immunology, pulmonary and critical care to bring our asthma patients the intensive treatment and care they need. Our integrated approach to patient care provides state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment services and opportunities to try new medications and therapies through ongoing clinical trials.

Adult Asthma Causes

Many people develop asthma during childhood; however, asthma symptoms can appear at any time in life. It is possible to first develop asthma later in life. Although there is no known specific cause of asthma, we do believe that some risk factors for adult asthma are obesity, hereditary asthma, allergies, hormonal imbalance and the onset of different illnesses.

Adult Asthma Symptoms

Symptoms range in severity and vary from person to person. You may have infrequent asthma attacks, have symptoms only at certain times—such as when exercising—or have symptoms all the time. Asthma signs and symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu

Adult Asthma Treatment

Though there is no cure, the symptoms can be controlled with effective treatment and management. This involves taking your medications as directed and learning to avoid triggers that cause your asthma symptoms. Adult asthma treatment can differ for older adults, adults taking other medications, pregnant women, and people who only experience asthma symptoms during exercise. Your physician might prescribe one or more of the following treatments:

  • Inhaled Corticosteroids – This is the preferred medication for long-term control of adult asthma. It’s the most effective option for long-term relief of the inflammation and swelling that makes your airways sensitive to certain inhaled substances. Reducing inflammation helps prevent the chain reaction that causes asthma symptoms.
  • Combination Inhalers – These contain an inhaled corticosteroid plus a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA). LABAs are symptom-controllers that are helpful in opening your airways. However, in certain people they may carry some risks.
  • Oral Medications – Leukotriene modifiers are oral medications that include montelukast (Singulair), zafirlukast (Accolate) and zileuton (Zyflo, Zyflo CR).
  • Quick Relief Medications – These medications are used to quickly relax and open the airways and relieve symptoms during an asthma flare-up, or may be taken before exercise if prescribed. They include short-acting beta-agonists.
  • Oral and Intravenous Corticosteroids – These may be required for acute asthma or severe adult asthma symptoms. Examples include prednisone and methylprednisolone. They can cause serious side effects if used on a long-term basis.