Asthma in Older Adults Clinical Presentation

Updated: Dec 16, 2019
  • Author: Praveen Buddiga, MD, FAAAAI; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination


The clinical presentation of asthma in older adults usually involves the patient indicating recurrent episodes of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, persistent coughing or nocturnal coughing, and/or recurrent lower respiratory tract infections. Symptoms may vary over time and often triggered by exercise, cold, dust or exposure to either allergic or nonallergic stimuli.

Childhood or family history of allergies or asthma, history of smoking, or exposure to environmental hazards could help differentiate asthma from COPD. [15]

Physical examination

The physical examination of older adults with asthma may find wheezing, a rapid respiratory rate, or in severe cases, use of accessory respiratory muscles. However, the physical examination findings may be entirely normal.