Adult-Onset Asthma Treatment

Adult-onset asthma is a condition characterized by the development of asthma symptoms in individuals who were previously asthma-free in their adult years.

What is Adult-Onset Asthma?

Adult-onset asthma refers to the onset of asthma symptoms in individuals, typically after the age of 20, who have not previously experienced asthma during childhood. It is crucial for adults experiencing symptoms to seek medical evaluation and diagnosis, as effective management and treatment options are available to help control and improve their respiratory health.

What Are Symptoms of Adult-Onset Asthma?

Adult-onset asthma symptoms can fluctuate in intensity and frequency. Here are some of the most common symptoms of adult-onset asthma:

Shortness of Breath

A common symptom characterized by difficulty breathing and a feeling of not getting enough air


High-pitched, whistling sounds while breathing, commonly associated with asthma due to narrowed airways


Frequent coughing, especially at night or in the early morning, is a classic asthma symptom

Chest Tightness

A sensation of pressure or constriction in the chest often associated with asthma, making breathing uncomfortable

Chest Pain

Discomfort or aching in the chest, which can occur during an asthma attack but may also have other causes

Chest Heaviness

A sense of weight or pressure in the chest, typically linked to asthma symptoms

Chest Squeezing

A gripping or constricting feeling in the chest, often experienced during an asthma attack

Decreased Endurance with Sports

A reduction in physical stamina and athletic performance due to asthma-related limitations

What Causes Asthma in Adults?

It’s important to note that the specific cause of adult-onset asthma can vary from person to person, and it often results from a combination of factors. Some of the most common causes of adult-onset asthma are listed below:

  • Environmental allergies
  • Exposure to smoke
  • Pollution
  • Eosinophilic phenotype
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Adenoid hypertrophy
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Diagnosing & Treating Asthma in Adults

Medical History & Physical Exam

Gathering a thorough medical history and conducting a comprehensive physical examination are pivotal steps in diagnosing and managing adult onset asthma effectively.

Diagnostic Testing

Your medical provider will conduct pulmonary function tests including spirometry, lung volumes, and DLCO and fractional exhaled nitric oxide as diagnostics tests for asthma. If necessary, additional testing, such as a chest x-ray or a methacholine challenge may also be obtained.


Asthma treatment recommendations will be determined based on the level of severity of your diagnosis.

Testing for Adult-Onset Asthma

Spirometry is a breathing test that evaluates the function of your lungs by measuring airflow in order to diagnose asthma.
Lung Volumes
This measures the volume of air in the lungs during different phases of respiratory cycle or with different maneuvers.
Diffusing Capacity of the lungs for carbon monoxide. This is a measurement that assesses the lungs’ ability to transfer gas to and from the inhaled air into the capillaries that line the alveoli in the lungs.
Exhaled Nitric Oxide
Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FENO) is a test approved to help assess asthma control. It measures the gas called Nitric Oxide in your breath, which is a marker of inflammation in the lungs.

How to Treat Adult-Onset Asthma?

At Impact Medical, treatment recommendations are determined based on severity and cause. Learn more about some of the treatment options available for asthma below.
Rescue Medications
Rescue medications are only used as needed and provide temporary relief of asthma symptoms related to exacerbation. An asthma rescue inhaler should always be readily available for any patient who has an asthma diagnosis.
Maintenance Medications
Maintenance medications are generally taken on a regular basis with the intention to decrease airway inflammation, minimize asthma symptoms and prevent asthma exacerbation.
Biologic Therapies
Biologic therapies are used for patients with moderate to severe asthma who remain poorly controlled despite conventional treatments. These newer targeted therapies have been designed to target immunologic triggers that drive asthma.

Adult-Onset Asthma FAQs

Adult-onset asthma is diagnosed in individuals who are generally over the age of 20 and develop onset asthma symptoms in adulthood. This can be due to a variety of reasons including allergies, exposure to smoke, pollution, and more.

Adult-onset asthma is diagnosed through pulmonary function tests including spirometry, lung volumes, and DLCO that measure how well the lungs are working.

If you’re displaying signs of asthma, including but not limited to, shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, or wheezing, contact a medical provider at Impact Medical to set up a diagnosis assessment for adult-onset asthma.

Experience relief from adult-onset asthma today.