Is asthma worse for males or females?

I was just talking to my teenage daughter about her asthma and what she would want to people to know about growing up with asthma.

Asthma in children – difference between girls and boys

My daughter was hospitalized 4 times when she was little, thanks to asthma and pneumonia.

In fact, the nurses all thought she was absolutely adorable (of course they were right!) because what 3 year old knows how to stand for chest x-rays? And what a “stekascope” is? She may not have been old enough to pronounce stethoscope, but she knew what it was for!

Her older brother was hospitalized 8 times (2 in ICU.) His asthma was VERY severe when he was little. When he would get sick and start to cough, I knew within 2 days that he would be hospitalized. He would go from bad to worse very quickly. He even scared one of the ER doctors who was shocked at how quickly my son’s oxygen level dropped. I could hear him running down the ER and skidding to a stop outside my son’s triage room in the ER. (In all fairness: I DID warn the ER doc that my son has severe asthma, had been hospitalized repeatedly, and tends to “drop” quickly, but he didn’t listen……)

My son was was on the highest dose of asthma  maintenance meds. He completed 5 years of allergy shots (because allergies can make your asthma worse) and he was also getting monthly injections of a biologic.

Every time he would cough, I would panic and run to find him. Most of the time it was for good reason. But sometimes he would say, “Mom – chill! I just swallowed wrong, okay?!”

Now the tables have turned

He is in college now, and his asthma is very mild. But now Asthma Doc is having a hard time controlling my daughter’s asthma. Seems weird, but it’s actually normal.

Did you know that women have more severe asthma and higher rates of asthma than men?

Something lovely happens to our bodies when we females go through puberty. I’m not talking about THOSE changes……. I’m talking about how asthma is affected by hormones.

When boys are young, they have higher rates of being hospitalized for asthma. In a quote from a scientific study called  “Asthma is Different in Women” 

“……..asthma related office and emergency room visits and hospitalizations are higher among boys than girls 0 to 14 years of age”.

After puberty, we women take over and hold that spot. Lucky us.

The same report states:

Asthma prevalence, severity, exacerbation rate, hospitalizations and mortality are higher among women than men overall

But once you hit menopause (which is soooooo much fun to go through!), asthma changes again. How?

The drop in asthma severity between ages 50 to 65 in menopausal women compared to men supports the theory that asthma improves after menopause.

Well at least there is one bonus to suffering through menopause!

Women and asthma

So, if you are female and thinking, “My asthma never used to be this bad, it seems to be getting worse over time.” It just may be. Talk to your doctor and make sure you are on the right medication. There are a LOT of asthma medications, and it can take time to find the one that is just right for you. Sometimes you may need to increase or decrease your asthma medication, depending on if your asthma seems to be in control or not in control.

To find out if your asthma is in control, you can use the Rules of Two. It’s from Baylor Health Care System. Many people THINK there asthma is just fine (it’s okay to wake up at night coughing all the time, isn’t it?) No, actually.

Take the 4 question test and see if your asthma is in control.

And keep in mind what may have worked for you once may not always be the best option. If hormones are constantly changing, that can change your asthma control and may mean changing your medicine.

It’s just one more fun little bonus from Mother Nature!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net 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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