02 December 2008

Asthma and the elderly

Don’t be fooled into thinking asthma is only a childhood disease.

Don’t be fooled into thinking asthma is only a childhood disease. It can occur for the "first" time in your thirties or forties or even in your sixties or seventies.

It is regularly diagnosed as a new condition in the elderly. But according to the latest research, the adult suffering from adult-onset asthma will remember an incidence(s) of asthma in her/his childhood. Almost all adults who are "newly" diagnosed with asthma, had suffered some or other form of asthma in their infancy or childhood, and had relapsed after a long "remission".

Elderly patients may be difficult to medicate because they have other health considerations such as heart problems but, with the help of a skilled professional, they should be able to lead a normal, active life. The first line of treatment for adults and the elderly corresponds with the first line of treatment for all: bronchodilators for acute attacks and inhaled corticosteroids for chronic treatment if needed.

If your elderly parent suffers from asthma, you may have to lend a hand with cleaning around the house to ensure that house-dust mites (the most common asthma allergen) or cockroaches don’t get a foothold. Arrange with your elderly parent to do an intensive spring clean at least once a month. They can do maintenance cleans in between. Help keep house-dust mites at bay by using synthetic duvets and pillows and by keeping knick-knacks and clutter to a minimum. The covers available to cover mattresses are much more effective than even a decade ago. Specialists recommend all precautionary measures available.

Read more:
Asthma triggers

National Asthma Education Programme (NAEP)
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)


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