TUESDAY, May 1, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Asthma often is misdiagnosed and undertreated in older people, with only 53 percent of those with asthma using prescribed inhalers, a small new study suggests.
The study included 77 people, including people both with and without asthma, who were over age 60. Of those with asthma, 89 percent also had allergies to mold, animals or dust mites.
The asthma patients were more likely than those without asthma to have hay fever, arthritis, diabetes, higher levels of pain and poor general health than those without asthma.
The study appears in the May issue of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
"Those with asthma reported more infections, physician visits and impact on health, yet only half are regularly treating the disease," lead author and allergist Dr. Andrew Smith said in a journal news release. "Patients should regularly carry and take prescribed asthma medications, following dosage instructions. Research shows that appropriate recognition of the disease, use of asthma medications and treatment by allergists improves outcomes, including reduction of hospital visits and improvement of quality of life."
"Asthma is a complex disease that, when left untreated, can be life-threatening," said Smith, a member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "It is alarming that such a large percentage of older people with asthma are letting their disease go untreated, especially since this can lead to other health problems."
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has more about older adults and asthma.