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My Experience With Adult-Onset Asthma: Symptoms and Treatments

I developed adult-onset asthma two years ago. I'm still trying to get it under control with the help of my doctors.

Treatment and Symptoms of Asthma

Adult-Onset Asthma

I developed adult-onset asthma two years ago, and I am still trying to get it under control with the help of an allergist, pulmonologist and ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor).

Two years ago, I moved from the Midwest to the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in Northern Virginia.

While living in the Midwest, I had allergies. I only needed to take a Zyrtec a day, but I was okay. I did not have asthma then.

While I was living in the Midwest, I had my two children. I started noticing that I would get sinus infections more often. I related it to being around my two small children and all their playdate buddies.

When I moved to Virginia, I was okay for the first few months—but then the spring came. I developed an awful sinus infection and bronchitis.

The first doctor told me to rest and the bronchitis will go away with time. I didn't go back to him again.

I went to another doctor who told me I had a sinus infection and bronchitis. They put me on more allergy medicine, antibiotics and oral steroids. I started getting better, but about a week or so after I finished my medicine, the sinus infection and bronchitis and sinus infection came back and it was worst.

I then had an asthma attack in the middle of the night and was rushed to the ER. I could not breathe. I felt like I couldn't get air into my lungs. The ER doctor did a couple breathing treatments before I could breathe better and did tons of tests. That is when I found out I had asthma.

Once I finished the antibiotics and oral steroids the ER doctor gave me, I was better for about two weeks and then I went downhill again. Luckily the ER doctor also gave me an albuteral inhaler to maintain my lung function and to take in case I felt another asthma attack coming on.

The ER doctor gave me a referral to an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor). I saw him since I still wasn't feeling well and I was wheezing constantly. He gave me another round of steroids and antibiotics.

After three different rounds of antibiotics and three rounds of oral steroids, I finally started feeling a little better, but not completely.

The ENT doctor gave me a referral to an allergist. The allergist ran an allergy test where she pricked me with 40 different needles coated in different allergens.

I found out I was allergic to almost everything outside, inside and tree nuts. She gave me some allergy medicine and started me on allergy shots since my asthma is induced by allergies.

My allergist also gave me a referral to a pulmonologist since the medicine was not helping me completely.

Asthma Inhaler

What Triggers Adult-Onset Asthma?

Anything that irritates your lungs could trigger adult-onset asthma. For me, it was a bout of bronchitis and moving to an area that is full of allergens that I am allergic to.

Some common triggers of adult-onset asthma include:

  • Recurring childhood illnesses (e.g., bronchitis, pneumonia)
  • Smoking
  • Allergens
  • Dust
  • Infections (e.g., pneumonia, bronchitis, flu)
  • Some medications (e.g., beta-blockers and NSAID)
  • Allergy-prone foods (e.g., nuts, seafood, etc.)

Some people with adult-onset asthma may have had it (undiagnosed) as a child and not know it. The symptoms could have gone away for years and come back later in life.

Asthma Symptoms

  • Wheezing (this is the most common symptom for adults). This sounds like a whistling sound coming from your lungs when you breath.
  • Persistent cough
  • Tightness in chest
  • Feeling of gunk / mucous in the lungs
  • Tire easily on high trigger days
  • The feeling that you cannot get enough air in and out of your lungs

Asthma Poll

Other Ailments That Resemble Asthma

  • Acid Reflux (or GERD) - Acid that rises from the stomach can make its way up the esophagus and into the lungs and nasal cavity. When the acid reaches the throat, it causes a person to cough. When stomach acid reaches the lungs and/or nasal cavity, they create more mucous to get rid of the irritant. Excess mucous production, wheezing and coughing are a couple symptoms that asthma and acid reflux share.
  • Sinusitis - Swollen sinuses create more mucous, which can get into the lungs and cause irritation.
  • Allergies - When you come in contact with an allergen, your body creates more mucous to capture and get rid of the allergen. The mucous can get into the lungs and cause wheezing.

All of these ailment areas are connected by the airway. When one area is affected, other areas can be affected as well. Many people who have asthma, also have allergies and / or acid reflux.

Asthma Medication Inhaler

5 Summer Allergy & Asthma Triggers

  • Summer Fruits and Vegetables
  • Changes in Weather
  • Campfire Smoke
  • Stinging Insects
  • Chlorine

5 Summer Allergy and Asthma Triggers

  • Summer fruits and vegetables - Fresh fruits and vegetables may have pollen on them from allergy inducing plants like trees, weeds and grass.
  • Changes in weather -When the weather shifts from humid to dry or a cool wind picks up, it could cause problems for asthma sufferers. Wind also picks up plant and mold and makes it easier to breathe in causing asthma attacks induced by allergies.
  • Campfire smoke - Breathing in any kind of smoke irritates the lungs and could trigger an asthma attack.
  • Stinging Insects - Some people have an allergic reaction to insect stings. With an allergic reaction, a person could have an asthma attack.
  • Chlorine - Chlorine in pools can cause irritation in the lungs when breathed in, resulting in an asthma attack.

Asthma Attack Triggers

The many causes

Asthma   

Allergy-Induced

Pollen

Animal Dander

Weather Changes

Exercise-Induced

Cardio Workouts

Running

Zumba

Understanding Asthma

Other Causes Of Asthma Attacks

  • Pollution - When asthma sufferers breathe in pollution, it inflames the lungs, which can result in an asthma attack.
  • Allergies - Allergy-Induced Asthma (this is the one I have) is induced by allergy triggers like pet dander, pollen, mold, dust and some foods.
  • Exercise - Exercise-Induced Asthma is caused when a person who has asthma does cardio workouts. The action of breathing in and out deeply sets the lungs off for an allergic reaction.
  • Weather - Any change in weather is tough on the lungs of a person with asthma.

Asthma Action Plan

Summing Up Adult-Onset Asthma

To sum it up, adults can develop asthma, even if they have never had it as a kid.

Adult-onset asthma usually begins after a some type of lung virus or bacterial infection.

Sometimes, even moving to another area with more allergens could trigger adult-onset asthma.

Once you develop adult-onset asthma, you most likely will have it for the rest of your life.

Adults with asthma will need to take a maintenance inhaler and medicine to calm the allergies, if the asthma is induced by allergies.

Anyone with asthma needs to watch out for things that trigger an asthma attack like pollution, allergens, smoke, changes in weather and some medications.

Once you have asthma, you need to maintain it with medication and by staying away from things that trigger it to make sure it doesn't get out of control and turn into an asthma attack.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: can a new environment, such as one with more pollinating plants, cause an asthma attack?

Answer: Yes. If you are allergic to pollinating plants, your allergies could cause more mucus, which would aggravate your asthma.

Question: Is there any relation between fibromyalgia and asthma?

Answer: Here is a link with helpful information:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/030079... "Asthma in patients with fibromyalgia does not appear to be a more severe disease than in asthmatics without fibromyalgia, but is more difficult to control, at least in part due to alterations in the patient's perception of dyspnea."

Question: Can the shift in environments from a dry climate to a tempered forest cause an asthma attack?

Answer: Wet, heavy air will usually cause my asthma to act up. I am usually OK in dry environments, unless it is really hot. Everyone is different, but a change in environment can definitely aggravate asthma.

Question: Can asthma worsen colds or flu?

Answer: Yes, I’ve noticed that cold and flu symptoms tend to linger in the lungs for longer than the average duration.

Comments

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on July 23, 2013:

I didn't even think about that since I use liquid body wash. That's one more thing we have to watch out for!

denisefenimore on July 23, 2013:

What is bad is bar soaps don't list ingredients! I was using a new bar of soap once and the moment it hit my skin it felt like my skin was on fire. Now I only use liquid soap that clearly shows the ingredients!

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on July 22, 2013:

Thanks Denise! Asthma is awful! I have had the same thing happen as you. I am allergic to Brazil Nuts. I was using a new shampoo through Aveeno, but my scalp was breaking out and itchy. My hair looked awful. I finally figured it out when I looked at the ingredient list and saw that it contained Brazil Nuts!

denisefenimore on July 22, 2013:

Great work! I too have adult asthma. I discovered I not only had tree allergies, but was now allergic to almonds, which are now put in hair shampoos, conditioners and skin lotions! I can be at the grocery store and pass someone and I'll begin to sneeze or cough uncontrollably. Thank goodness for rescue inhalers! Sometimes I even have had to leave the store to recover and go somewhere else to shop.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 18, 2013:

Biloxi, Mississippi and the whole East Coast make my allergies go in to overdrive. I hope that the allergy shots I get each week help because I love living in Virginia! (-:

The Examiner-1 on June 18, 2013:

caseymel

I do not have asthma, but I do have allergies, like hay fever, and I remember that when I lived in AZ my allergies calmed down a good bit.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 18, 2013:

It surprised me that medicine and other medical conditions could cause asthma-like symptoms or exacerbate asthma symptoms.

I will be making a trip out to the Midwest this Summer. It will be interesting to see if my asthma calms down while I am out there. I wonder if it is due to the allergens around my new home in Virginia. My asthma is induced by allergies.

Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on June 17, 2013:

I'm a bit wheezy these days but I think it's the beta blockers after reading this.

The Examiner-1 on June 14, 2013:

I am glad that the asthma is better, perhaps the medicine will get better soon too.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 14, 2013:

The Examiner-1: Thanks! Little by little, the Doctors and I are getting my asthma under control. It's much better than it was last year, but I'm also on tons of medicine.

Abby: We live in Victory Lakes. Kingsbrooke is really close to us. I always pass it when I go up Linton Hall.

Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on June 14, 2013:

Wow, it is a small world! We lived in Kingsbrooke. Which subdivision do you live?

The Examiner-1 on June 14, 2013:

I do not have it (thankfully), I am sorry that you do. This looks helpful for others who do have it.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 14, 2013:

Abby,

Wow! What a small world! We just moved to Bristow 2 years ago from the Midwest. That's when my asthma began. It seems like so many people in this area have sinus and/or lung issues. I hope you feel better too! Asthma is no fun!

Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on June 14, 2013:

Thank you for a great hub on adult onset asthma, caseymel. I had asthma as a child. It went away in my late teens. Now I'm 45, and it re-occured early his year when the trees were in bloom. At first, I thought it would be temporary allergies. However, it lingered on. I knew I had no sinus infection, but that persistent cough bugged me continuously. Thankfully, after nearly 4 months, it's beginning to subside. I do hope you feel better soon. This has been a bad year for many people who don't normally have asthma or symptoms.

BTW, I'm from Northern Virginia (Bristow/Gainesville) as well. Well, it's my home, but I moved to Charlotte about 8 years ago. I still have lots of family in Northern Virginia though.

Firoz from India on June 14, 2013:

Helpful content on asthma. Voted up.

Judy Specht from California on June 13, 2013:

Well written. Asthma is fickle. Learning symptoms of on set is vital to control.

Melanie Casey (author) from Indiana on June 13, 2013:

Thanks Sue! Until 2 years ago, when I was diagnosed with Adult-Onset Asthma, I had no idea that an adult could get Asthma. I've learned a lot about Asthma in the last 2 years. (-:

Susan Bailey from South Yorkshire, UK on June 13, 2013:

Voted up and shared. Very informative and useful post.