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Summer Allergies Might Not Be What You Think

A new study many adults overlook asthma symptoms because they don't realize it can develop later in life.
A new study many adults overlook asthma symptoms because they don't realize it can develop later in life.
August 31, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Those summer allergies actually could be something worse: adult-onset asthma.

According to a survey commissioned by National Jewish Health, most adults either overlooked, or weren't aware of common asthma warning signs.

Many patients surveyed also were surprised to learn that they could develop asthma as an adult, and because of that many go undiagnosed and without proper treatment, sometimes for years.

Dr. David Beuther, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health, says that can be dangerous.

"A lot of people have asthma along with their allergies, and asthma is something you can't treat as casually as allergies because it can lead to some real serious problems,” he explains.

Reuther says shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent cough, chest pain and trouble sleeping are symptoms of asthma.

He adds over 8.5 percent of children in the U.S. have asthma. For adults, it’s around 7.5 percent.

Reuther says many people are surprised to learn they can get asthma as an adult.

"Every year if you take a group of 200 adults and follow them for a year, and if at the beginning of the year they didn't have asthma, one in 200 of those adults will develop a new diagnosis of asthma,” he relates. “And they don't have to have had it as a child. It can come out of the blue. It can come on when you're 20 and it can come on when you're 85."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Maryland, 9.4 percent of adults have asthma, compared with a national rate of just over 8 percent.

When it comes to allergies, the symptoms are nasal stuffiness, itchy eyes and a scratchy throat.

Reuther says sleeping with pets can trigger allergic reactions, although he adds most people insist they're not allergic to their pets.

"People are unaware that when you live with an animal that you're allergic to, it often drives kind of chronic daily symptoms, and you don't often get the dog or the cat showing up in your face and the all of the sudden getting sudden symptoms, so people usually say their animal doesn't make them allergic," he explains.

Reuther says keeping the windows and doors shut during the summer will help keep allergies at bay.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD