How Asthma is Different in Adults and Children Post Header Image

How Asthma is Different in Adults and Children

Asthma is a condition that affects the lungs and may impact a person’s ability to breathe. The good news is that it is usually easy to control with medication.

Both children and adults can get asthma, but it may affect them in different ways.

  • Asthma is usually more persistent in adults, so they often have it for a longer period of time. Kids may experience asthma symptoms on and off, with symptoms getting better as they grow up.
  • Many signs of asthma are the same in kids and adults – but some symptoms are more common in younger children, like working hard to breathe (seeing the skin tugging in and out between the ribs) or feeling tired and not eating well.
  • As children, boys are more likely than girls to have asthma. For adults, asthma affects more women than men.
  • Asthma can be more serious for adults – they're more likely to die from it than children are. Women have a higher risk of dying from asthma than men.
  • Adults with asthma may have other health problems that make it hard to manage their asthma. For example, some heart medicines can affect how asthma medicines work or cause asthma-like symptoms.

Keep reading for a list of common symptoms for both kids and adults.

Asthma Symptoms in Children

Asthma can happen at any age – but most kids who have asthma show signs before age 5. 

For babies and toddlers, symptoms can include:

  • Breathing fast
  • Working hard to breathe
  • Skin sucking in around the ribs or chest
  • Belly moving a lot when breathing
  • Panting when playing
  • Wheezing or coughing a lot
  • Trouble eating or sucking
  • Feeling tired and not wanting to play

For older kids and teens, symptoms can be similar to adults and may include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Feeling pain or tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing when breathing
  • Waking up at night with shortness of breath
  • Peak flow meter readings drop (if they use one)

Asthma Symptoms in Adults

Asthma is not just for kids – it’s fairly common for adults to get it, too. It's a big reason why people miss work. Signs of asthma in adults include:

  • Having trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Feeling tightness or pain in the chest
  • Making a whistling sound when breathing
  • Waking up at night with shortness of breath
  • Peak flow meter showing lower readings (if using one)

Enjoy free membership in Parkland Community Health Plan’s Be in Control program, with educational materials and resources to support the management of asthma and diabetes.

Members can earn a $50 reward value if you have asthma and remain enrolled for 6 months annually. Click here to learn more.


Parkland Community Health Plan