When we think of asthma, we may picture a child using an inhaler or coughing uncontrollably for a short time. What many people do not realize is that asthma, a condition in which breathing is more difficult than it should be, often first shows up in adulthood. Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the lungs. When triggered, the airways become inflamed and narrow. The body also produces more mucus during a flare-up, making it more and more difficult to move air in and out of the lungs.
Signs of adult-onset asthma include:
- Coughing or wheezing after physical exertion
- Persistent cough, especially at night
- Wheezing sounds during normal breathing
- Chest tightness, wheezing, or coughing after exposure to certain substances
- Breathing problems linger for more than 10 days after a cold
The signs of asthma are often confused as common allergies. When a person has an allergy, the body reacts to certain foreign substances with symptoms such as stuffy, itchy, or runny nose or an itchy throat. These symptoms are quite different from those associated with asthma. When a person with asthma is exposed to an allergen, their breathing may be affected more than is normal. Rather than getting a stuffy or runny nose, the asthmatic may experience distressed breathing that requires medication. This is referred to as an asthma attack.
Diagnosing Adult Asthma
Adults who experience the signs of asthma can get the answers and care they need by consulting with their family physician or a pulmonologist. In our NYC offices, Dr. Bowen assesses the signs of asthma via a thorough consultation and physical exam. A pulmonary function test may also be performed. A common test that Dr. Bowen performs to diagnose asthma is nitric oxide monitoring. This breathing test evaluates inflammation in the airway. The symptoms of asthma occur when lung tissues become inflamed and the airway muscles contract. These actions result in higher levels of nitric oxide in the breath.
Asthma is a chronic condition, but one that can be successfully managed with proper medication. If you’re suffering from asthma symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bowen or call 212-480-4062 for an evaluation. Appointments will be confirmed by office staff.