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An older man and woman using inhalers

Adults Have Asthma, Too!

Since becoming an "adult" (in quotations since at this age I still feel very much like a child), I have quickly come to learn asthma is treated much differently outside of pediatric care.

I recently had an admission to the adult hospital - a gnarly asthma flare + two different kinds of lung infections is not a good combination. Since I am still primarily followed by my peds pulmonologist for a few more years (I will definitely be making full use of his age cap), I would have gone to the children's hospital for my regular team to take care of me, but as we all know, the respiratory season has not been kind to the kiddos this year and I likely would not get a bed or the care I needed.

A difference in care: A visit to the hospital for asthma

Off the bat, this admission was nothing like any of my previous admissions. When I asked what respiratory protocol I would be put on, I was told there was no respiratory protocol - everything was either PRN, a frequency that would not have agreed with the state my lungs were in, or ICU-level care. This was not going to work well for me and my rigorous treatment schedule, amplified even more with this flare. To make matters even worse, the hospital literally carried none of my respiratory medications, even the more common ones, so my mom made the drive back home to deliver them all.

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At this point, I pretty much begged the doctor to let me self-administer medications since I was in a hospital that "doesn't really see respiratory patients like you." Thankfully, he obliged - much to the staff's delight as well since my regimen is quite complex - and I was on my own. At this point, the admission seemed pointless despite the IV steroids since I could actually take care of myself in the same capacity (or better) from the comfort of my own home, so my flare and I made our way out within 48 hours. At least I did not seem to bring the infection back with me.

Again: Adults have asthma, too!

This was by no means an isolated incident - the same situation replays whenever I see an adult pulmonologist. I am repeatedly told they do not see asthma patients like me, and while I am no stranger to hearing that from any pulmonologist, they usually elaborate further by saying they just do not really see severe asthma in adults. I did not know that once I turned 18, a switch would flip, and my lungs would start working again! I guess mine didn't get the memo.

I know asthma, even severe asthma, is not isolated to childhood. There are even asthma medications and procedures reserved strictly for adults with severe asthma. It seems to be a common theme that people think you get better and "grow out" of asthma, but again, my lungs didn't seem to get the memo and decided to do the reverse. I think it's time for the non-pediatric world to learn that you can still be immensely affected by this illness, regardless of your age. Adults have asthma too, and we deserve to get the care we need, regardless of age.

I could definitely get behind the "no asthma" thing in adulthood though, so will someone give my lungs that update?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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