Asthma disease in adults, studies investigating the prevalence of asthma in different parts of the world report very different results, especially when study designs and asthma criteria are not standard. Reported asthma incidence rates in these studies range from 1% to 18%. Overall, it is estimated that asthma affects approximately 300 million people in the world. One of every 250 deaths in the world is thought to be due to asthma. In relation to lifestyle and environmental factors, an increase in the frequency of asthma, like other allergic diseases, is observed and expected. Studies investigating the prevalence of asthma in adults in our country have reported different results from 2% to 17% from different regions. It has been shown that asthma is more common in coastal areas and big cities in our country, and asthma is more common in women in the adult age group.
Sometimes, asthma attacks may appear when the patient is only exposed to a specific allergen (eg cat) or in the workplace or in the form of a cough rather than shortness of breath. In some patients, asthma may occur at an advanced age. In such cases, diagnosing asthma may be difficult or delayed. Considering these patients, the frequency of asthma may be higher than expected.
Can getting asthma disease in adults be prevented?
Some risk factors have been identified in the development of asthma in adults. Chief among these are personal factors such as genetics and gender. Obesity alone is also a risk factor for asthma. Asthma is more common in those with a body mass index above 30 and is more difficult to control.
Environmental factors that lead to the development of asthma in those genetically susceptible to asthma include allergens (e.g. house dust mites, mold, cockroaches), occupational sensitizers (e.g. disinfectants, wood dust), smoking, air pollution and dietary habits.
The studies conducted to prevent allergic sensitization and prevent the development of asthma in the sensitized person are called primary prevention. The main goal of primary prevention strategies is the first years of life from prenatal period. Therefore, the measures that can be taken in adulthood are limited. Nevertheless, risk factors such as obesity, smoking, and air pollution that may disrupt the control of asthma that may occur should be avoided, healthy ventilation of work environments where products that cause respiratory disorders should be provided, and a mask should be used if necessary, it is appropriate to follow a Mediterranean diet and a diet that does not neglect fruit consumption.
Although it is known that allergen immunotherapy, better known as allergy vaccine, reduces the risk of developing asthma in children, it has not been shown to provide this effect in adults.
Why does allergic asthma occur?
Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the airways; As a result of the effects of many inflammatory cells and substances in the airways, airway hypersensitivity and asthma-related complaints (such as cough, shortness of breath) occur. Asthma complaints can develop independently from allergies. Regardless of the allergy, different factors such as smoking, air pollution, cold air, heavy smells, intense emotions (eg crying, laughing) can trigger asthma complaints.
An allergy is when the immune system perceives and reacts to a normally harmless substance (eg pollen) as a threat. The immune system produces antibodies (IgE) that attach to these substances (allergens) to protect the body. Depending on the allergy, there may be reactions in different organs such as eyes, nose, lungs, skin and intestines. When a person is exposed to an allergen to which he or she is sensitive, lung complaints such as cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness are called allergic asthma. The most common allergens that cause allergic asthma are house dust mites, pollens, molds, animal epithelias and cockroaches.
What Are the Complaints of Asthma in Adults?
The most common complaints due to allergic asthma in adults are shortness of breath, wheezing (a squealing sound when exhaling), cough and chest tightness. The cough is particularly intense at night and when exposed to certain triggers. Asthma patients complain that upper respiratory tract infections immediately descend to their breasts and disturb them for a long time.
People with allergic asthma may also have comorbid conditions such as allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), allergic conjunctivitis (eye flu). Runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching in the nose are common in allergic rhinitis. In allergic conjunctivitis, there is tearing, itching and redness in the eyes. In atopic dermatitis, itching, dryness, redness and cracking are seen on the skin.
Could an Asthma Disease Symptom Be Only Cough?
In a group of asthma patients, the main complaint is not shortness of breath and wheezing, but cough. In this table called cough variant asthma, the patient’s cough easily occurs with triggers such as allergens, cold air, exercise, and some medications. The cough response threshold of these patients is lower than other people. Tissue changes in the airways of the patients are similar to those in classical asthma patients.
Physical examinations and pulmonary function tests of the patients can be completely normal. The diagnosis of asthma can only be made with the help of special respiratory tests using airway-constricting substances or with a good response to direct trial asthma treatments.