Is adult-onset asthma different from childhood asthma?

It’s estimated that from 10 to 20 percent of adults with asthma have symptoms for the first time in adulthood.

  • The rest had asthma as children and may or may not have experienced remission (had their symptoms go away, often for a number of years).

Asthma and its treatment are generally the same for both adults and children. However, there are differences. People with adult-onset asthma:

  • Typically don’t “outgrow” it
    • In a clinical study, only 5 percent of people with adult-onset asthma had their symptoms go away (remission) and no longer needed treatment.
  • Are less likely than children to have allergic asthma
    • Many adults develop asthma from exposure to “irritant” substances that trigger symptoms, such as car exhaust, dust particles, strong odors, and irritants inhaled on the job (occupational asthma).

In addition:

  • After age 20, more women than men develop asthma.
  • Adults are more likely than children to have other health problems requiring other medications, which could affect how well their asthma medications work.
    • If you have adult-onset asthma or are concerned you may have it, be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you’re taking.