Asthma, at any age, can lead to a decrease in quality of life and adversely affect the family members who provide care. If you are an older adult, and if you have suddenly experienced the onset of breathing complications, it is important to see a healthcare provider who can determine if you are struggling with late-onset asthma.
As more and more adults are entering into the latter part of their lives, it is anticipated there will be more and more individuals suffering from late-onset asthma. Oftentimes, and unfortunately, this type of breathing complication is misdiagnosed in older adults as a viral or bacterial respiratory illness.
When caring for an aging parent, if you find that there is a sudden onset of breathing complications, it is important to seek out medical attention and to ask the physician about the potential risk for late-onset asthma. While there may be an inclination to diagnose as infection, and prescribe antibiotics, many adults will not benefit from this treatment if the condition is truly an asthmatic complication.
The cessation of smoking and the use of exercise, coupled with a corticosteroid inhaler, will ultimately be the best form of treatment for an older adult who has a complication with late-onset asthma. Unfortunately, many older adults are misdiagnosed and often do not receive this treatment initially. Without proper treatment, respiratory complications, associated with late-onset asthma, will only worsen and some adults will have an especially difficult time when allergy season arrives.
If you are considering options for your loved one, be sure to ask about late-onset asthma and request the necessary breathing studies to rule out the viral infection or bacterial infection first. In the long term, this will provide the best care but only when, or if, the right diagnosis is given. As a fail safe measure, also ask for blood work, or culture, to be taken to confirm any presence of viral infection or bacterial infection as there is, of course, always a risk that both ailments may be affecting the breathing. For older adults, however, keep in mind that late-onset asthma is a viable diagnosis that should be considered, and treatment provided accordingly.
Sources: The Asthma Sourcebook, by Francis V. Adams