Can I Develop Asthma In Adulthood?

Question:Can asthma and allergies develop when you're an adult?

Answer: Yes, allergies and asthma certainly can develop as an adult, but the vast majority of asthma presents in early childhood, probably in the order of 80-90 percent by the age of six. But still, people can give a very clear history of no problems in childhood, and then suddenly it seems at age 40 or 50 or older develop shortness of breath, wheezing, and on testing with spirometry, the lung test, you see that it looks just like asthma, and it is asthma, and responds to asthma medications.

Why does that happen? We really don't know. One possibility is that after a respiratory infection there could be some damage to the lungs that leads to the development of asthma.

Another important contributor is probably obesity. There is a subset of asthma related to obesity, and we know in this country that as people get older, they tend to gain weight, most people. And so obesity could in fact drive some of this adult onset asthma.


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