Feature Article

Diagnosis and management of asthma in the elderly

Nick Antic, Peter Frith

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Abstract

Asthma in the elderly is a significant but often under-recognised problem. Once it is considered, simple and safe tests may aid diagnosis. Management should follow National Asthma Campaign guidelines.

Key Points

  • Asthma in the elderly tends to be underdiagnosed but, once it is considered, simple and safe tests may aid diagnosis.
  • Management of elderly patients with asthma should vary little from that of younger patients. The National Asthma Campaign’s Six Step Asthma Management Plan provides a proforma for asthma management across all ages.
  • Inhaled corticosteroids (for stabilising the underlying inflammatory response) and short-acting beta agonists (for control of symptoms) remain the cornerstone of therapy.
  • It is important to ensure the patient has a current action plan and is using medication correctly.

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