Can I get asthma in my 30s? 40s? 50s?

What to do if the signs of asthma come calling

Asthma isn’t just for kids.

This breathing trouble can crop up any time in a person’s life. When it develops in grownups, it’s known as adult-onset asthma.

It isn’t always easy to recognize asthma. You may have only a few symptoms — or symptoms that don’t seem much like asthma to you. So here are a few hints to help you spot it — and start breathing easier again.

Get wise to the wheeze

Wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath are the hallmarks of asthma. But you might notice other symptoms too, including:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • A persistent cough
  • Recurring episodes of bronchitis

If you think you might have asthma or another respiratory problem, see your primary doctor to find out for sure. Lung function testing, along with your medical history and a physical exam, may help your doctor find an answer.

Make a plan, take action

If asthma is the diagnosis for you, the next step is managing it. There is no cure — so the goal of treatment is to reduce your symptoms as much as possible, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Work with your doctor to make an asthma action plan. This plan details, among other things, the medications you’ll need to help control asthma. It also tells you what to do in an emergency.

In addition, your doctor may help you figure out what triggers your symptoms. Common triggers include:

  • Allergens, such as mold, pollen, pet dander and dust
  • Irritants, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution or chemicals
  • Certain drugs, including aspirin and some beta-blockers
  • Colds and other respiratory infections
  • Exercise

Once you know your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them. Or in the case of exercise, learn how to stay active without triggering a flare-up.

What to do next

Check out these 6 tips to help stop asthma flare-ups

And know this: asthma and allergies spell double trouble.
Get tips for when you have both.
Opens a new window

Subscribe to our newsletter

Want to receive our e-newsletter? Subscribe to Healthy Mind Healthy Body® today.

  • If you are a new member, register on® to begin getting the newsletter.
  • If you've already registered on, log into your account and update your Subscriptions in the Account Settings section.