Asthma in the elderly is a chronic lung disease that normally causes the patient to experience difficulties in breathing. It is caused mainly due to tightening and constriction of muscles that surround the airway. It can also be caused by irritating, soreness, swelling and inflammation of the airways that is found in the lungs. It usually affects people of different ages. However, the elderly with asthma need special attention as it is most common in individuals who are over the age of 75. Some of the reasons for these are: as one ages the skin loses flexibility and the airway is not an exception. This makes it weak and more prone to asthma symptoms. The immune system also decreases as one grows older. Some of the most common symptoms of asthma in the elderly are chronic coughs, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.
Some of the important factors you need to put into consideration when taking care of the elderly with asthma are:
- Elderly patients normally suffer from other conditions that may interfere with the asthma treatment process. This can include diabetes, IHD, hypertension among others.
- Drugs can be overused by the elderly as they don’t respond well to medication if you compare them with the younger generation. This can result in the development of other conditions common in the elderly like arthritis and cardiac diseases.
- Elderly patients should never take any drug without the prescription of a doctor. It is advisable to stick to one professional doctor who knows the patient’s medical history. Here you can be assured that they will be given the right mediation that does not conflict with the other prevailing conditions.
- It is important to get the right diagnosis as asthma in the elderly can be mistaken for COPD. Thus seek medical attention the minute the signs of the disease start showing.
- Breathlessness (dyspnea) in the elderly is not only caused by asthma as it can also result from other causes like other lung and heart diseases and congestive heart failure.
- The elderly patient should stop smoking and avoid areas where they can be exposed to tobacco smoke as this can make the condition worse.
- The elderly with asthma normally suffer from depression which can slow down the process of treatment. Try and find ways to get rid of depression for asthma to be treated faster and more effectively.
- Allergens such as mold, dust and mites can enhance the severity of the condition. It is important to keep the elderly away from such harmful elements and keep their surroundings clean to contain the situation.
Once the asthma has been detected in the old person, they should visit the doctor to get the right form of treatment. They need someone who will check up on them to ensure they are taking the correct asthma medications and are keeping the condition under control. It is also important to try and educate the elderly on the right steps to be taking so they may recover quickly. Some of the treatment methods include: drugs, therapy and clinical strategies. They should also be given an emergency inhaler to use in case of an asthma attack. Ensure the inhaler is refilled once the attach it is over to avoid further complications.