SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- There are many people who experience asthma for the first time as an adult. Proper diagnosis is essential.
- Medications will help to manage your asthma. Make sure to take them regularly and as prescribed.
Many people think of as a childhood illness, however, adults can also develop asthma. Approximately one in 9 adults in Australia have asthma. Careful and proper diagnosis is important, as asthma symptoms can be confused with other conditions, such as or (another respiratory condition).
Symptoms of asthma in adults
Asthma symptoms may differ between people, but common symptoms are:
- persistent cough, especially at night or early in the morning
- a feeling of tightness in the chest.
Asthma triggers in adults
Adults with asthma are sensitive to the same kinds of triggers as younger people. However, every person with asthma has a different experience, and everyone may have a different trigger. You may have more than one trigger which flares up your asthma symptoms.
Triggers may include:
- allergens such as or
- dust and
- fumes and strong odours
- respiratory infections, such as a cough, or the
- some medications such as beta-blockers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- in certain circumstances, .
Cigarette smoke and asthma
Although quitting can be difficult, there are many effective treatment options available which you can discuss with your doctor or pharmacist.
Asthma medication is important
Asthma can be well-controlled with the appropriate medication in almost all people. To maintain and improve your asthma control both in the short and long term, it is important to continue to take your and discuss any symptoms and concerns with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
The main types of medication are:
- preventers – that slowly make the airways less sensitive to triggers by reducing swelling and mucus inside the airways. This medication is taken daily. There are also combination preventer medications containing two different medications.
- relievers– that act quickly to relieve symptoms by relaxing the tight muscles around the airways. This medication is used during an asthma attack
Spacers for asthma medication
It is recommended that all people with asthma, regardless of age, use a spacer when taking medication via a metered-dose inhaler (puffer).
Spacers help to improve the delivery of asthma medication to the lungs and minimise side effects from medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about spacers and how they might help you manage your asthma.
Good asthma control
If you have good asthma control:
- you are able to do all your usual activities
- you have no asthma symptoms during the night or on waking
- you have daytime symptoms no more than 2 days per week
- you need your reliever medication no more than 2 days per week.
If your asthma is affecting your day-to-day activities, or you are having symptoms or needing to use your reliever more often, see your doctor for a review of your asthma.
Asthma action plans
If you have asthma, make sure your doctor provides you with a personalised, written asthma action plan. This is a set of instructions written by your doctor that outlines:
- how to care for your , including what to take
- how to tell if your asthma is getting worse
- what to do if your symptoms are getting worse
- what to do if you have an
- the name of the person preparing the plan, and the date.
This plan should be reviewed every year, as your asthma will change over time.
Asthma and influenza
You can’t really avoid them, but you can reduce your risk of catching viral infections:
- Wash your hands before you eat or touch your face, eyes or nose.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or elbow.
- Avoid crowded spaces, especially where people have colds.
- Have the every year.
Adults with asthma should talk to their doctor about having yearly influenza vaccinations and an asthma action plan to manage their asthma during this time.