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February 8, 2010 at 8:41 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Does Asthma Have an Age Restriction

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation and constriction of the airways accompanied by excessive mucus production. The symptoms are usually triggered by airborne allergens or exercise. Many people are symptom free in between asthma attacks.

At What Age Do People Usually Get Asthma?

Asthma usually develops at an early age, sometimes even before the age of two. The vast majority of cases occur before the age of eighteen. However, some people develop asthma later in life, and as many as ten percent of cases are found in people who are sixty-five or older. In children, asthma affects boys much more frequently than girls, but as the age of onset increases, this ratio reverses until many more women are diagnosed than men. At all ages, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be affected by asthma than other population groups.

Can You Outgrow Asthma?

Many of the children who develop asthma symptoms before age two will quickly outgrow the disease. Among older children, those who have only had mild symptoms will often outgrow the condition as teenagers. In some cases, symptoms can return in midlife. However, children with severe asthma, those who have a parent with asthma, and those who have allergic rhinitis (a condition in which the nose and eyes become irritated and runny in response to allergens) are not likely to outgrow the disease, and will usually require medications such as bronchodilators for the rest of their lives.

Could Early and Late Onset Asthma Be Two Entirely Different Diseases?

Asthma is an umbrella term that covers symptoms rather than etiology. Anyone who suffers from occasional attacks of restricted airways is likely to be labeled as asthmatic. However, there is increasing evidence that early and late onset asthma may, in fact, be two entirely different diseases that simply share symptoms. People who developed asthma as young children usually have accompanying allergies and always show signs of inflammation in the airways. However, adults who get asthma do not, commonly, have allergies, and they show no signs of the inflammation characteristic of those who developed asthma at an earlier age. Furthermore, the prognosis is much better for those who develop asthma as children. These individuals usually have more infrequent and mild attacks. They also have long periods of remission between bouts of the disease. Those who get the disease as adults, however, usually have much more impaired lung function, suffer more frequent and severe attacks, usually do not have periods of remission but instead deal with asthma on a daily basis, and require more aggressive medications to treat their condition. They are also more likely to suffer respiratory failure as a result of attacks. This evidence has led researchers to hypothesize that early and late onset asthma are perhaps completely different diseases with different causes. Further study in this vein may lead to more targeted treatments for these different types of asthma, as well as assisting diagnosis.⊂=17&cont=173

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