In adults, the volume of the lungs (the volume of air inhaled and exhaled per second) decreases with age due to changes in muscle tissue and insufficient flexibility of the chest. It is a decrease in lung volume that does not allow doctors to determine the onset of the development of the disease – asthma.
Symptoms of asthma in children can appear and go away, while in adults, symptoms can occur regularly and last for a long time. In most cases, adults need to take medication daily to control the course of the disease.
How is asthma diagnosed in adults?
The doctor makes the diagnosis by doing the following:
- To study the history of the disease, to ask about the exciting symptoms, to listen to breathing
- Perform a lung health survey using a device called a spirometer. With it, the amount of inhaled air is measured during a deep breath. The device also measures how quickly the lungs dispose of the air received. Perhaps, before or after such an examination, the doctor will ask you to inhale a bronchodilator (bronchodilator) of short-term action (a drug that opens the airways by relaxing the muscle tissue that is compressing them, and also helps clear the lungs of mucus).
- Test methacholine load. You can perform this test if the symptoms and examination with a spirometer do not give accurate results. During inspiration, if there is asthma, methacholine will cause a spasm and constriction of the airways. During the examination, methacholine is inhaled with an aerosol before and after spirometry. The test results with methacholine are considered positive, and show the presence of asthma, if the performance of the lungs is 20% less than normal. After conducting such a survey, a bronchodilator is always used to neutralize the effect of methacholine.
- Chest X-ray. Radiography is an image of the body, which is obtained thanks to a small dose of radiation reflected on a special film or a fluorescent screen. Radiography is used to identify not only asthma, but also other diseases and conditions of the body, starting with bronchitis and ending with broken bone. A doctor may order an x-ray to examine the inside of the chest, including the heart, lungs, and bones. After examining your lungs, your doctor can tell if your symptoms relate to asthma or to some other disease. Although X-rays are used to diagnose asthma, but at the same time it often happens that an asthmatic patient has X-ray results are absolutely normal.
What is asthma in adults?
If a doctor makes a diagnosis of asthma to a person over the age of 20, then this is considered “adult asthma.”
Those who are most prone to such asthma include:
- Women who are currently undergoing hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause
- Women taking estrogen for more than 10 years to prevent menopause
- Anyone who has recently had a viral illness, such as a cold or flu.
- Obese people
- People with allergies, especially cats
- People who are often found to be irritants, such as tobacco smoke, dust, down, or a strong-smelling perfume. Irritants that cause asthma symptoms are called “asthma pathogens”. Asthma obtained at work is called “occupational asthma.”