Viewer Question:Why did asthma attacks start back after 23 years? Age 51 - Male - exercise daily (run/walk). Had frequent asthma attacks from age 1-23. No asthma attacks from age 24-46. Had angioplasty at 46. Began strict low-fat diet at 47. Began regular exercise program 47. All three attacks during the last five years immediately followed my contraction of an upper-respiratory virus.
Doctor's Response:It is not uncommon for asthma to occur in youth , disappear , only to recur in middle age. Upper respiratory viral infections often result in airway inflammation. This inflammation seems to make receptors in the airway more sensitive to stimuli. When this occurs the muscle in the airways twitch and bronchospasm (asthma attack) follows.
The reason for the age related changes is unclear but probably is the result of changes in the underlying immune system. Other potential causes could include changes in hormone levels or increased exposure to external substances (infectious, allergic, pollutants).
Thank you for your question.
Last Editorial Review: 4/5/2002