Survey: Common Asthma Warnings Overlooked

A new national asthma survey commissioned by National Jewish Health shows that many adults are unaware of common symptoms of asthma in adults. Doctors say that the findings explain why many adults with asthma may not realize that they have the disease, and don’t seek treatment that can help them.



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Whether it's hiking, cycling, or another activity, Laura Armijo exercises every day. In her 40s, she had to add something new to her workout: an inhaler. To her surprise, she had developed asthma as an adult. "Sometimes that persistent cough is a sign of asthma."

Laura is one of more than 17 million adults with asthma, one of the most common chronic respiratory diseases in the U.S. and doctors believe many more have this condition but don't realize it.

According to a new survey by National Jewish Health, most people know that wheezing and shortness of breath are symptoms of asthma. But barely half know that trouble sleeping is a sign of adult-onset asthma and only slightly more know that chest pain and persistent cough are symptoms.

"A lot of people are running around with asthma and don't know it." Dr. David Beuther says that 1 in every 200 adults are newly diagnosed with asthma every year and while children with this disease might have more common symptoms, adults who develop asthma typically have some of the less recognized symptoms. "It's probably more than half the time that they don't have the traditional symptoms; they don't have all of the symptoms so it's not as straightforward. So I think the diversity of asthma and how it shows up and how it feels to the patient is much greater in adulthood than in childhood. 

But with proper treatment and careful management, adults with asthma can live an active lifestyle. "Run, walk, bike, hike - it's a really great thing."

At National Jewish Health in Denver, this is Clark Collins reporting.


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