Many medical professionals worry about how to help kids with their asthma, but not everyone realizes that some seniors in Maquoketa and elsewhere may also need some guidance, including those who may be receiving hospice care.
Some people with asthma may have grown up with this potentially dangerous or even life-threatening health condition, while others may have been recently diagnosed, so they may need more assistance and instruction in learning to live with asthma.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care has worked with a variety of patients with asthma and allergies. They’re happy to provide advice on ways to live with both or either condition, including what to avoid, what to do if an allergic reaction or asthma attacks occur, or discuss medication or other tools that can minimize the effects of reactions. They also can provide similar instruction to loved ones, caregivers or family members about what they can watch for or how to respond in an emergency if someone may not be able to help themselves.
This time of years is a great opportunity to learn more about these conditions: the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has declared May to be National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. All throughout the month, foundation staff and other supporters invite people online to learn more about both health conditions.
According to the foundation, 19 million adults and 6.2 million children have some form of asthma, about 1 in 13 people. Of these, more than 11.5 million have indicated that they have had one or more asthmatic incidents in the last year.
Each year, 3,615 people die from asthma, and adults with asthma are four times as likely to die than children with asthma, and women are more likely to have asthma than men.
Within the African American community, the death rate from asthma is higher than other races or ethnicities, and African-Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma.
Asthma and seniors
Seniors are also the fastest growing segment of asthma and allergy sufferers, and sometimes, they even begin to develop their first symptoms in their 70s or 80s. In these cases, however, flare-ups and conditions that they experience may be more severe than that of people more familiar with this disease.
They can be more prone to tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, or general respiratory failure, even before asthma is diagnosed.
Finally, asthma in older people rarely goes into remission so someone could be dealing with it all of the time. In comparison, some younger people may only deal with asthma when an attack takes place.
Adults with asthma are also more likely than younger patients to develop respiratory failures, even during relatively minor incidents.
Asthma also has a higher possibility of being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with adults than younger readers. A provider may mistakenly conclude that breathing problems are more due to heart disease or other respiratory health conditions like emphysema or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Part of effective management of asthma is paying to attention to what conditions can cause an attack and hopefully avoiding these situations in the future.
These can include environmental and medical triggers such as:
- Cigarette smoke, either directly inhaled through the mouth and into the lungs, or second-hand from others smoking nearby.
- Other respiratory-rated diseases. Someone with COPD, emphysema or heart disease also has greater odds of contracting or at least requiring a test for asthma. (But luckily, treatment methods for people with COPD can also be helped by asthma medication in some cases).
- Airborne contaminants. Other things in the air can be sucked into the lungs and cause the inflammation and tightness of tissues that can limit breathing. This can include household dust. Areas such as bedding or linens that have been around a long time may add more contaminants to the air when changing sheets or doing laundry.
- Certain foods or drinks. Dairy items are known to trigger asthma, and interestingly allergic reactions to dairy also may trigger asthma.
- Pollen. Seasonal allergies and sensitivities to organic plant material can make it difficult to do much outdoors especially in the spring when flowers and plants begin to bloom and increase their areas. Pollen from pine trees can also be observed in other seasons.
- Temperature. Being outside on a cold day may stimulate or even cause pain in the lungs. If you need to go outside, experts suggest bundling up and even covering your mouth with a scarf.
- Exercise. Beginning some forms of physical activity can cause breathing problems. However, experts say this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid exercise since it’s important for seniors to look for ways to stay fit. Consider warming up inside before moving outside, or exercising inside on days when there’s a high pollen count or it’s especially cold.
Please consult your provider if are beginning notice problems or situations when it’s difficult to breathe. He or she can discuss options such as inhalers or other strategies to minimize asthma, which can be communicated to caregivers, home health aides or family members.