Asthma (Adult Onset)

By: Victoria Clements, CPMC Research Associate
Reviewed by: Roy Levinson, MD, Maria Lania-Howarth, MD, Cooper University Hospital and Tara Schmidlen, MS CGC, Coriell Institute for Medical Research

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that involves narrowing of the airways through inflammation and production of extra mucus which makes breathing difficult and can trigger wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from minor to severe and can potentially be life-threatening. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance, but for others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can be triggered by different situations, including: exercise, exposure to cold air, allergens, and workplace irritants1-3.

Asthma has no cure. Even when a person with asthma feels fine, the disease is still present, and it can flare up at any time. However, with today's knowledge and treatments, most people who have asthma are able to manage the disease so that they experience few, if any, symptoms and can live normal, active lives4.

How Common is Asthma?

Asthma affects 8.2% of the U.S. population- approximately 24.6 million people. This means that about 1 in 16 adults suffers from asthma3. Asthma occurs more often in females, children, and non-Hispanic black and Puerto Rican individuals.

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Learn more about Adult Onset Asthma, from symptoms to understanding your risk, through the links below.

Page References

1. Balkissoon, R., Asthma overview. Prim Care, 2008. 35(1): p. 41-60, vi.
2. Staff, M.C. Asthma. Disease and Conditions 2014 [cited 2014 August 18]; Available from:
3. CDC, C.f.D.C.a.P. Asthma. 2014 August 4, 2014 [cited 2014 August 18]; Available from:
4. National Heart, L., and Blood Institute. Asthma. Health Topics 2012 June 15, 2012 [cited 2014 August 18]; Available from:

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Learn more about Adult Onset Asthma Learn More› ]

Risk Factors

Both genetic and non-genetic factors play a role in Adult Onset Asthma
Learn More› ]

Reduce Your Risk

Risk-reducing behaviors for Adult Onset Asthma Learn More› ]

The CPMC Study

Learn how the CPMC Study identifies your risk for Adult Onset Asthma Learn More› ]