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Adults Get Asthma Too: June 18, 2014

That constant wheezing, coughing and congestion - chances are you chalk it up to a cold or allergies. But doctor’s find many people may be sadly mistaken. Their symptoms could actually be asthma.

“I think asthma shifted the traditional part of it being a disease of childhood to being increasingly recognizes in adulthood as well,” says Dr. Sagar Naik, a Lee Memorial Health System pulmonologist.

Doctors believe both genetics and environment play a role, either way the result is a growing number of grownups being diagnosed with asthma. Many times the signs were there all along.

 “A lot of these adults when we actually see them and go through a history and assessment, they had all the symptoms, they could have been diagnosed as a child but that criteria was not around then,” says Teresa Summe, who is an asthma management coordinator with Lee Memorial Health System.

In the past ten years the number of adult asthmatics rose by almost 30% the CDC found.  Some are long-standing, but undiagnosed cases. But many times the condition is what’s called adult onset asthma, which means it is acquired over time.

 “Folks who never had asthma in their childhood and they get asthma when they’re older. We see quite often. Sometimes the compounding factor with that also is acid reflux disease. Sinus disease and postnasal drip is deeply connected with asthma. One of the most common causes of chronic cough in an adult turns out is asthma,” says Dr. Naik.

Along with pediatric cases, adult asthma needs treatment too. Lee Memorial Health System offers a program for asthma management.

 “They come in once a month; they see a certified asthma educator. We do peak flow monitoring – and it can tell them that they’re starting to have problems. We still do asthma action plans,” says Summe.

At any age, asthma is nothing to play around with.