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The Top Asthma Signs to Watch Out For in the Elderly

As a large portion of the country’s population is now heading into their senior years, it’s only natural that respiratory illnesses start to become more prevalent. In fact, that could be a big part of the reason you enrolled in the online bachelor of science in respiratory therapy degree at the University of Cincinnati. These baby boomers are quickly entering a stage of their life where medical care will not only need to happen on a more regular basis, but will become a fact of life.

Asthma is a well-known respiratory illness that anyone of any age can suffer from. With that said, as a student in the respiratory therapy degree program, it will be very important that you are able to identify and assess the signs of asthma. Here we’ll take a look at the most common signs to watch for in the elderly in particular, as they become more dependent on the medical community in the years ahead.

Recognizing Potential Problems

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the asthma death rate is highest in people that are aged 65 and older, which is exactly where these baby boomers are heading. What makes it such a unique time is the sheer volume of people that will be in the same age group at the same time. Medical personnel need to be very fast and efficient at recognizing the signs and symptoms of asthma so that the death rate does not increase any further.

Looking back as to why asthma is such a problem with baby boomers, it all goes back to how they managed it. A study was conducted by researchers at the University of Cincinnati and the St. Elizabeth Medical Center, which showed that sufferers are not using their prescribed inhalers. In fact only 53% were using their inhalers. This is a rather alarming number and it’s easy to see how it will lead to major medical issues moving forward.

Key Asthma Symptoms

So what are the common symptoms when it comes to asthma? Well there are a number and some can be attributed to other illnesses and respiratory issues, so it’s important to be checked out by a medical professional.

The most common symptoms are:

  • A difficulty breathing even if you didn’t just do something that would make you out of breath
  • Coughing when you laugh, exercise, or during the night
  • A tightness in the chest
  • A wheezing sound when you breathe
  • A shortness of breath

The severity and occurrence of these symptoms can vary from person to person. They may only suffer from one or two symptoms, or in more extreme cases they may suffer from all of these symptoms.

Preparing for the Future

As the medical community looks to prepare for the future, it’s important to recognize how common asthma will be with the elderly and just how serious it can be if not treated. Educating patients will obviously be a top priority, as is being able to recognize the symptoms early so they can receive proper medical attention.