Asthma in older people

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From the clinical perspective, asthma in the older patient may be difficult to diagnose because of the non-specificity of presentation and the wide range of differential diagnoses. Prior to confirmation of asthma in the older patient, both respiratory and cardiac investigation may be necessary. Polypharmacy is inherent in treating older people and accurate drug histories are essential in order to identify patients with drug-induced bronchospasm and avoid interactions with asthma medication. Patient and carer education is vital, and a structured approach to follow-up which includes measurement of lung function and assessment of inhaler technique should be carried out in every asthmatic regardless of age. Finally, there is a great need for health services and those in the commercial sector that are involved in asthma care to ensure that future research and development rises to the challenge of an ageing population.

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