Q: I had asthma as a kid, but seemed to outgrow it. I’m 33 now, and I’ve developed a cough, and have felt tight in the chest around my girlfriend’s cat. Can asthma come back?
Dr. Bassett: We know that asthma tends to persist from childhood through adulthood. A person may not have symptoms for a while, but it is a chronic disease and symptoms may resurface at any time due to triggers such as allergies, exercise, infection or other respiratory irritants.
The majority of adults with asthma have underlying allergies, thus a proper evaluation is necessary. Skin testing at your allergist’s office can help determine your allergy triggers and whether being exposed to the cat is causing the tightness in your chest.
A computerized breathing test, also known as a lung function test or spirometry, can more accurately and objectively look at your small and large airways to determine if asthma is present.
If it is in fact asthma, your doctor will prescribe appropriate asthma controller and/or rescue medications as well as discuss ways to modify your environment based on your allergic triggers.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergist and asthma specialist, is the Medical Director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (www.allergyreliefnyc.com; Twitter @allergyreliefny). He is also on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.