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Asthma in Older Adults: Managing Treatment

Topic Overview

Diagnosis and treatment of asthma can be a challenge if you are age 65 or older. You might have another medical condition that masks your asthma. Or you may be more likely to have side effects from asthma medicines or be at risk for reactions from the different medicines you may be taking.

To treat your asthma, you and your doctor should work closely together, especially if you:

  • Have a history of smoking or have long-term respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which can make it hard to diagnose asthma.
  • Have one or more other health conditions that can make asthma symptoms worse and complicate treatment, including sinusitis, heartburn, or heart failure. Some conditions, such as osteoporosis, can become worse when you use asthma medicines. Your doctor may prescribe asthma medicines that avoid making other medical problems worse and that interact the least with other medicines you may be taking.
  • Have trouble performing lung function tests, which can make diagnosis and treatment more difficult. If you have trouble using a peak flow meter, it may be hard to know when lung function is decreasing. This can lead to delays in getting treatment and to undertreatment of your condition.
  • Have trouble using inhalers properly.
  • Don't always remember to take your medicines.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Last Revised February 22, 2013

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