Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

Risk Factors for Asthma

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

There are usually reasons or risk factors that predispose you to asthma and respiratory problems. Asthma can happen to anyone without any risk factors, but it is less ly if there are no risk factors present.

Let's look at some asthma risk factors and see how they increase the chance that a person will have the asthma symptoms of cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath associated with the disease. After determining your personal risk factors for asthma, decide on the ones you can control and try to make some lifestyle changes.

Avoidance of the risk factors you can control is crucial in preventing asthma symptoms. While you cannot change your gender or family history, you can avoid smoking with asthma, breathing polluted air, allergens, and taking care of your general health so you don't become overweight. Take control of your asthma — by controlling your asthma risk factors.

By understanding all the risk factors, you may be able to prevent or control your asthma.

Childhood asthma occurs more frequently in boys than in girls.

It's unknown why this occurs, although some experts find a young male's airway size is smaller when compared to the female's airway, which may contribute to increased risk of wheezing after a cold or other viral infection. Around age 20, the ratio of asthma between men and women is the same. At age 40, more females than males have adult asthma.

Blame Mom or Dad or both for your asthma. Your inherited genetic makeup predisposes you to having asthma. In fact, it's thought that three-fifths of all asthma cases are hereditary. According to a CDC report, if a person has a parent with asthma, he or she is three to six times more ly to develop asthma than someone who does not have a parent with asthma.

Atopy refers to a genetic tendency to develop eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and asthma. Atopy causes a heightened sensitivity to common allergens, especially those that are in food and in the air.

Some children with eczema or atopic dermatitis develop asthma. Some findings indicate that children with atopic dermatitis may have more severe and persistent asthma as adults.

Allergies and asthma often coexist. Indoor allergies are a predictor of who might be at risk for an asthma diagnosis. One nationwide study showed levels of bacterial toxins called endotoxins in house dust were directly related to asthma symptoms.

Sources of other indoor allergens include animal proteins (particularly cat and dog allergens), dust mites, cockroaches, fungi, and mold. Changes that have made houses more “energy-efficient” over the years are thought to increase exposure to these causes of asthma.

Indoor air pollution such as cigarette smoke, mold, and noxious fumes from household cleaners and paints can cause allergic reactions and asthma. Environmental factors such as pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ozone, cold temperatures, and high humidity are all known to trigger asthma in susceptible individuals.

In fact, asthma symptoms and hospital admissions are greatly increased during periods of heavy air pollution. Ozone is the major destructive ingredient in smog. It causes coughing, shortness of breath, and even chest pain — and can boost the susceptibility to infection.

Sulfur dioxide, another component of smog, also irritates the airways and constricts the air passages, resulting in asthma attacks.

Gas stoves are the primary source of indoor nitrogen dioxide, a common indoor pollutant. Studies show that people who cook with gas are more ly to have wheezing, breathlessness, asthma attacks, and hay fever than those who cook with other methods. It is estimated that more than half of the households in the U.S. use gas stoves.

Weather changes can also result in asthma attacks in some people. For instance, cold air causes airway congestion and an increase in mucus production. Increases in humidity may also cause breathing difficulty in a certain population.

Several studies confirm that cigarette smoking is linked with an increased risk for developing asthma. There's also evidence that cigarette smoking among adolescents increases the risk of asthma. Even more findings link secondhand smoke exposure with the development of asthma in early life.

Some studies show that asthma is more common in overweight adults and children. Overweight asthmatics seem to have more uncontrolled asthma and more days on medications for asthma.

Maternal smoking during pregnancy appears to result in lower lung function in infants compared to those whose mothers did not smoke. Premature birth is also a risk factor for developing asthma.

Smolley, L. Breathe Right Now, Norton, 1999.
Porsbjerg, C. Chest, 2006.
Kirkpatrick, G.L. Prim Care 1996.
Weiss, S.T. Bronchial Asthma Mechanisms and Therapeutics, 3rd ed.

, Little Brown, 1993.
Litonjua, A.A. Am J Clin Nutr 2006.
Beuther, D. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, April 1, 2007. WebMD Medical News: “Toxins in Dust Raise Incidence of Asthma.


CDC: “Asthma: Risk Factors.”

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Atopy.”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Types of Asthma

Source: https://www.webmd.com/asthma/asthma-risk-factors

Are People With Asthma at High Risk for Coronavirus?

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

Every year, people with asthma brace for seasonal colds and flu, which can aggravate wheezing and coughing. Asthma, a common long-term lung condition, can cause difficulty breathing and shortness of breath and accounts for 9.8 million doctor visits and 1.8 million hospital visits in the United States per year.

This year, people with asthma also have COVID-19 to worry about.

other coronaviruses, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system, has infected over 135,00 people and killed nearly 5,000 as of March 13.

According to health officials, those most at risk are older populations or people with pre-existing medical conditions. Now, many sufferers of asthma are asking themselves whether their condition puts them at a higher risk.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says yes. It lists asthma, along with diabetes and heart disease, as conditions that make someone “more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

” The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also lists asthma as a chronic medical conditions which makes one more at risk, noting that asthmatics should “take precautions when any type of respiratory illness is spreading in their community.”

But experts told TIME there is little definitive evidence to say whether asthma increases the lihood of catching the virus or of experiencing more severe illness.

“The data that we have so far from China and South Korea does not identify people with asthma as being at risk of getting the virus or having more severe illness with the virus,” Sebastian Johnston, a professor of respiratory medicine & allergy at the U.K. National Heart and Lung Institute tells TIME.

Keep up to date with our daily coronavirus newsletter by clicking here.

David Jackson, a consultant respiratory physician and clinical lead for asthma care at Guy’s Hospital in London also says that “asthma currently doesn’t seem to be a significant risk factor for a more severe infection,” adding that the new coronavirus does not seem to be affecting asthmatics in the same way as other viruses generally.

Research on COVID-19 is at a very preliminary stage, but one study of 140 infected patients found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the illness, has no effect on asthma. With that said, asthma has worsened with other strains of coronavirus.

However, while studies have not yet shown a link between asthma and more severe cases of COVID-19, asthmatics are at risk of more severe illness with respiratory viruses in general—and some experts say people with asthma should make additional provisions.

Johnston says people with asthma should follow all recommended precautions—such as social distancing, avoiding contact with people who have respiratory symptoms, and washing hands—but added that all asthmatics, even those with mild symptoms, should be taking their preventer inhalers “diligently” as a precautionary measure. They should also carry Ventolin—their blue reliever inhalers—with them in case of an asthma attack. Older viruses the seasonal flu remain a threat, he notes, and people with asthma should get the seasonal flu vaccine.

Please send any tips, leads, and stories to virus@time.com.

Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus:

For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don't get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

Source: https://time.com/5802423/coronvirus-asthma-high-risk/

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

BURGER/PHANIE / Getty Images

A number of different asthma risk factors may increase your chances of developing an asthma attack. If you have a diagnosis of asthma, you are at risk for an asthma attack. You are at increased risk of a significant asthma attack if you:

  • Have had a serious asthma attack in the past
  • Required admission to a hospital or intensive care unit to care for your asthma in the last year
  • Develop symptoms suddenly or asthma attacks seem to creep up on you without you noticing a change in your symptoms
  • Require frequent use of your rescue inhaler
  • Have a history of substance abuse
  • Have a history of significant mental illness

Some of the asthma risk factors are avoidable—such as exposure to smoking and eating certain foods—while others are not avoidable or modifiable, family history. Finally, there are also a handful of protective asthma risk factors that decrease your risk of asthma.

Asthma attacks—or any acute change in asthma symptoms that interrupt a person's normal routine and require either extra medication or some other intervention to breathe normally again—are more common among:

  • Children five years of age and younger
  • Adults in their 30s
  • Adults over the age of 65

Additional asthma risk factors in both adults and children include:

  • Family history: If you have a parent with asthma you are two to six times more ly to develop asthma compared to someone whose parents do not have asthma.
  • If you are predisposed to allergic conditions, your risk of asthma increases. Nearly half of children with eczema or atopic dermatitis develop asthma.
  • A personal history of allergies
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Urban living, especially if there is significant air pollution—pollutants such as sulfur dioxide irritate the airways leading to constriction and asthma symptoms.
  • Low levels of vitamin D
  • Obesity: Multiple research studies have demonstrated an increase of asthma in the overweight and obese. There is some evidence that obesity increases the risk for non-allergic asthma types.
  • Low birth weight
  • Being born in the winter months
  • Workplace exposures to chemicals or other substances that may lead to occupational asthma
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Sinusitis
  • Antibiotic use in the first year of life
  • Eating a lot of fast food
  • Regular acetaminophen use
  • Ozone exposure: Ozone is a major component of smog that increases traditional asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

While there is nothing you can do about your age or family history, it is important to keep these above things in mind, along with maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding cigarette smoke.

On the other hand, the following things can actually reduce your risk of developing an asthma attack:

  • Breastfeeding (lowers your baby's risk of developing asthma)
  • Attendance at daycare
  • Large family size
  • Increased intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Community resources such as economic development opportunities
  • Eating omega-3 fatty acids found in fish
  • Have an asthma action plan and understand how to implement it

If you are your child have a known history of asthma, you need to make sure that you have an updated asthma action plan. Asthma action plans will help you do the day to day things needed to prevent an asthma attack and identify early warning signs of an asthma attack so that you can take action.

In terms of prevention, the action plan will identify all of your known triggers and the things that you need to do to avoid them. Additionally, the plan will list your controller medications and how you should be taking them. You will need to develop a plan so that you remember to take your medication and make sure that you are getting the medicine you need to prevent asthma symptoms.

An action plan is also a tool that will monitor your symptoms using the familiar stoplight as a guide. When you are in the green zone, everything is good. In the yellow zone, you need to be cautious, and the red zone is impending trouble.

You will know what zone you are in by tracking either peak flows or symptoms. Each zone will have specific actions for you to take to improve your asthma control.

Think of the asthma action plan as your road map to better breathing and improved asthma symptoms.

If you do not have asthma, then you can consider things to avoid allergic disease such as delaying the introduction of allergic foods as long as possible, continuing breast feeding, or increasing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

Thanks for your feedback!

What are your concerns?

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  • NHLBI. Who Is At Risk For Asthma?
  • Toskala E, Kennedy DW, Asthma risk factors. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2015 Sep;5 Suppl 1:S11-6. doi: 10.1002/alr.21557.
  • Up To Date. Risk Factors For Asthma

Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/asthma-risk-factors-201078

Medscape Log In

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

Get unlimited access on Medscape.

Not a Medscape Member?

Get free unlimited access to

  • Breaking News
  • Business of Medicine
  • Expert Perspective

Breaking News

Stay informed on the latest advances in medical literature, by regulatory agencies the FDA, and from 200+ medical conferences worldwide.

Business of Medicine

Navigate the complex business, legal, and ethical arenas towards building and maintaining a successful medical practice.

Expert Perspective

Follow experts from across more than 30 medical specialties who share their viewpoints and guidance on medical developments as they unfold.

Expert Perspective

Follow experts from across more than 30 medical specialties who share their viewpoints and guidance on medical developments as they unfold.

Drug Monographs

8000+ prescription and over-the-counter drug monographs, including herbals and supplements

Disease and Condition Articles

7600+ diseases, conditions, and procedures articles enhanced with images and step-by-step videos

Reference Tools

Essential reference tools, including a drug-interaction checker, medical calculators, and a pill identifier.

A personalized CME tool to track progress and log completed CME activities

Credits Earned

Joint Accredited with multiple accreditations, including:

A personalized Activity Tracker to monitor progress and log completed CME activities


Get helpful advice on your cases from a community of physicians.


Showcase your clinical expertise.

Gain Essential Business Knowledge

Better navigate the business aspects of medicine and stay on top of the changing healthcare landscape.

*Medscape Business of Medicine Academy Survey, September 2015

Learn from Experienced Professionals

Courses were developed especially for physicians by business health experts and experienced physicians.

Develop Your Own Curriculum

Choose courses your needs. Earn course certificates and optional CME.

Medscape App

Get fast, accurate answers for point-of-care decision making.



Apple store rating


MedPulse News App

Stay on top of breaking news in your specialty and across medicine.



Apple store rating


CME and Education App

Continue your professional development – anytime, anywhere.



Apple store rating


  • Deutsch
  • Español
  • Français
  • Português

You’ve become the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal of medicine. A must-read every morning.

Assa Weinberg, MD

I was an ordinary doctor until I found Medscape. A wonderful resource tool with great updates.

Hemant Makan, MD

Great content. Unbiased reviews. Relevant topics. Cutting edge.

Ramabala Vuyyuro, MD

Source: https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/512066

Asthma: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Tests

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

Asthma is a problem in the airways, but we don't know exactly why. It is more common in people who have allergies, although anyone can develop asthma at any time.

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways of the lungs. During normal breathing, the bands of muscle that surround the airways are relaxed and air moves freely.

During an asthma episode or “attack,” there are three main changes that stop air from moving easily through the airways:

  • The bands of muscle that surround the airways tighten and make the airways narrow. This tightening is called bronchospasm.
  • The lining of the airways becomes swollen or inflamed.
  • The cells that line the airways produce more mucus, which is thicker than normal and clogs the airways.

These three factors – bronchospasm, inflammation, and mucus production – cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing.

Who is affected by asthma?

Asthma affects 22 million Americans; about 6 million of these are children under age 18. People who have a family history of asthma have an increased risk of developing the disease.

Asthma is also more common in people who have allergies or who are exposed to tobacco smoke. However, anyone can develop asthma at any time.

Some people may have asthma all of their lives, while others may develop it as adults.

What causes asthma?

The airways in a person with asthma are very sensitive and react to many things, or “triggers.” Contact with these triggers causes asthma symptoms.

One of the most important parts of asthma control is to identify your triggers and then avoid them when possible. The only trigger you do not want to avoid is exercise.

Pre-treatment with medicines before exercise can allow you to stay active yet avoid asthma symptoms.

Common asthma triggers include:

  • Infections (colds, viruses, flu, sinus infections)
  • Exercise
  • Weather (changes in temperature and/or humidity, cold air)
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Allergens (dust mites, pollens, pets, mold spores, cockroaches, and sometimes foods)
  • Irritants (strong odors from cleaning products, perfume, wood smoke, air pollution)
  • Strong emotions such as crying or laughing hard
  • Some medications

What are the most common symptoms of asthma?

Asthma symptoms are not the same for everyone. They can even change from episode to episode in the same person. Also, you may have only one symptom of asthma, such as cough, but another person may have all the symptoms of asthma. It is important to know all the symptoms of asthma and to be aware that your asthma can present in any of these ways at any time.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/08/2017.


Get useful, helpful and relevant health + wellness information enews

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Source: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6424-asthma

Is Asthma A Lung Disease And Is It A Risk Factors For Coronavirus?

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

  • Five million in the UK suffer from asthma
  • Asthma is a risk factor for coronavirus infection
  • Here's what you can do if you are asthmatic

The confirmed cases of coronavirus infections keep increasing with each passing day. In the UK, the recorded number of infections stands at 1,950, of which 71 has already died with another 20 in serious or critical condition.

This prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask people to stay at home if they belong to the group considered as high risk. The list included people suffering from asthma. What does this mean for them? asthma coronavirus Photo: CC Public Domain – pxhere

Asthma Symptoms

The NHS said that symptoms of asthma include having a whistling sound when breathing, feelings of breathlessness, coughing, and feeling your chest getting tighter. During an asthma attack, these symptoms may get worse.

Asthma is classified as a disease of the lung. According to the British Lung Foundation, its symptoms happen when there is inflammation of the airways, which then tightens when something irritates it. The condition can be managed by using inhalers, or in worse cases, a nebulizer machine. Many asthmatics lead normal lives.

The Cause Of Asthma

The exact cause of asthma is still unknown, though it has been observed to often run in families and is common in people with allergies. Childhood asthma is often linked to allergic reactions, particularly dust or pollen.

When an adult develops the condition, it is not considered as related to an allergy. Many instances cause the development of asthma. In some cases, repeated exposure to particular substances debris and dust that are inhaled in manual jobs may cause the condition to develop.

Asthma And COVID-19

The burning question now is whether the condition puts asthmatics at high risk from coronavirus infection. Since coronavirus is a viral respiratory infection, then the answer tends to be positive. Symptoms of the infection include having a high fever, shortness of breathing, and dry cough. These symptoms alone are already bad news for those suffering from asthma.

The government has included asthma as among the risk conditions of coronavirus infection, along with other long-term conditions heart disease and diabetes. Getting infected with COVID-19 can worsen the symptoms of asthma and also increase the occurrence of attacks.

In the case of severe asthma, the condition may be rare but it is very hard to control. If you are suffering from this type of asthma, you are regarded as a very high risk. The NHS may contact you within the week along with instructions on what to do amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether you have mild or severe asthma and develop COVID-19 symptoms, you need to go on self-isolation immediately. At the same time, call the NHS 111 service to schedule a test. You only need to self-isolate if you are not asthmatic or if you are not suffering from underlying conditions considered high-risk.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister has revised the measures that people with underlying conditions asthma need to do as protection against COVID-19. Mr.

Johnson said over the weekend, it will be necessary for the government to take one step further in ensuring those with serious underlying conditions are shielded from social contact.

They would have to do this for a minimum of 12 weeks or three months.

Source: https://www.ibtimes.com/asthma-lung-disease-it-risk-factors-coronavirus-2941963

Risk Factors for Asthma Exacerbation and Treatment Failure in Adults and Adolescents with Well-controlled Asthma during Continuation and Step-Down Therapy | Annals of the American Thoracic Society

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

Rationale: Although national and international guidelines recommend reduction of asthma controller therapy or “step-down” therapy in patients with well-controlled asthma, it is expected that some individuals may experience worsening of asthma symptoms or asthma exacerbations during step-down. Characteristics associated with subsequent exacerbations during step-down therapy have not been well defined. The effect of environmental tobacco smoke exposure on risk of treatment failure during asthma step-down therapy has not been reported.

Objectives: To identify baseline characteristics associated with treatment failure and asthma exacerbation during maintenance and guideline-based step-down therapy.

Methods: The present analysis uses data collected from a completed randomized controlled trial of optimal step-down therapy in patients with well-controlled asthma taking moderate-dose combination inhaled corticosteroids/long-acting β-agonists. Participants were 12 years or older with physician-diagnosed asthma and were enrolled between December 2011 and May 2014.

Results: An emergency room visit in the previous year was associated with subsequent treatment failure (hazard ratio, 1.53; 95% confidence interval, 1.06–2.21).

For every 10% increase in baseline forced expiratory volume in one second percent predicted, the hazard ratio of treatment failure was 14% lower (hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.74–0.99).

There was no difference in the risk of treatment failure between adults and children, nor was the duration of asthma associated with the risk of treatment failure. Age of asthma onset was not associated with an increased risk of treatment failure.

Unexpected emergency room visit in the previous year was the only risk factor significantly associated with subsequent asthma exacerbations requiring systemic corticosteroids. Time to treatment failure or exacerbation did not differ in participants with and without self-report of environmental tobacco smoke exposure.

Conclusions: The present findings can help clinicians identify adults and adolescents with asthma who are more ly to develop treatment failure and exacerbations and who may therefore require closer monitoring during asthma step-down treatment. Those with reduced pulmonary function, a history of exacerbations, and early-onset disease, even if otherwise well controlled, may require closer observation to prevent treatment failures and asthma exacerbations.

Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01437995).

Asthma exacerbations, potentially life-threatening events, are associated with decreased quality of life and increased healthcare use (1, 2). Exacerbations are common, even in patients receiving optimal medical management (3).

Previous asthma exacerbations, poor asthma control, degree of use of bronchodilator therapy, decreased pulmonary function, baseline dose of controller therapy, and environmental tobacco exposure are all reported risks for exacerbations (4).

Although national and international guidelines recommend reduction of asthma controller therapy or “step-down” therapy in patients with well-controlled asthma (5), it is expected that some individuals may experience worsening of asthma symptoms or asthma exacerbations during this process.

Characteristics associated with subsequent exacerbations during step-down of controller therapy in patients with well-controlled asthma have not been well defined.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been cited as a risk factor for asthma exacerbations and emergency room visits and has been associated with worse asthma severity (6–10). The effect of ETS exposure on risk of treatment failure or exacerbation during asthma step-down therapy has not been reported.

The present analysis uses data collected from a completed randomized controlled trial of optimal step-down therapy in patients with well-controlled asthma taking moderate-dose combination inhaled corticosteroids/long-acting β-agonists (ICS/LABA) (11).

Despite the fact that there were no differences in treatment failure rate among the three treatment groups (maintaining current ICS/LABA dose, reducing ICS dose and maintaining LABA, and discontinuing LABA), treatment failure rate was considerable in each group.

Identification of baseline characteristics associated with treatment failures and asthma exacerbations during maintenance of current therapy or guideline-based step-down therapy may help guide clinicians in identifying patients for whom step-down therapy may be associated with risk.

We also evaluated post hoc hypotheses about the effects of ETS on the same outcomes.

The LASST (Long-Acting Beta Agonist Step Down Study) is a multicenter, randomized, double-blind parallel three-arm 56-week trial designed to determine whether it is better to reduce ICS, discontinue LABA, or maintain stable treatment in patients with well-controlled asthma being treated with medium-dose ICS/LABA.

Details of the study design are described elsewhere (11). Participants enrolled between December 2011 and May 2014 were aged 12 years or older with physician-diagnosed asthma. All participants or guardians provided written informed consent, which was approved by the local institutional review board.

The study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01437995). Participants with well-controlled asthma on baseline treatment with moderate-dose ICS/LABA for at least 30 days were enrolled.

After an 8-week run-in period, subjects whose asthma remained stable (Asthma Control Test score ≥ 20, no unscheduled healthcare visits, no change in asthma therapy, use of

Source: https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201711-886OC

Causes and Risk Factors of Asthma

Risk Factors for an Asthma Attack

It's impossible to pinpoint one definitive cause of asthma, as several factors—genetics, pollution, smoking, and more—are suspected to, in some combination, give way to the condition.

What triggers asthma in those who have it is personal and can range from allergens pollen and dander to non-allergic factors exercise or having a common cold.

 Triggers prompt production of extra mucus and swell, challenging already sensitive, inflamed airways and making it difficult to breathe.

Knowing what causes you to have an asthma attack is an essential part of your care plan, as trigger avoidance is the most important thing you can do to live well with this condition.

The reason why people get asthma isn't fully established, but it's thought to be a mixture of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. According to the American Lung Association, you are at increased risk of developing asthma if you have:

  • Family history of asthma
  • Viral respiratory infection in infancy or childhood
  • Allergies
  • Occupational exposure to dust or chemical fumes
  • Smoked cigarettes, your mother smoked during pregnancy, or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Exposure to air pollution
  • Obesity

One pattern of disease progression is seen in some people with allergic asthma. They may have eczema (atopic dermatitis) in infancy and then develop food allergies. This is followed by hay fever and their condition eventually progresses to asthma. But this is not universal.

There are several common asthma triggers, which are substances and activities that set off asthma symptoms when you are exposed to them. What affects your asthma, and to what extent, is highly personal. The broad categories are:

  • Indoor triggers
  • Outdoor triggers
  • Foods
  • Exercise
  • Respiratory infections
  • Medications

Americans spend as much as 90% of their lives indoors. As a consequence, indoor allergens can play a significant role in worsening asthma.

Identifying the indoor allergens affecting your asthma could lead to significant improvements by either prompting you to avoid the triggers or develop a plan (with the help of your healthcare provider) to deal with them.

Indoor asthma triggers that may affect you include:

  • Secondhand smoke: Secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, consists of a mixture of both the smoke irritants exhaled by smokers of cigarettes, pipes, or cigars and from the burning tobacco itself. Environmental tobacco smoke contains more than 250 different cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene, vinyl chloride, and arsenic that may irritate your airways and lead to asthma symptoms.
  • Dust mites: Dust mites are small arthropods in every home that cannot be seen with the naked eye. They feed on tiny flakes of skin found on bedding products (mattresses, pillows, bed covers), carpets, upholstered furniture (or anything covered in fabric), and stuffed toys. Dust mites can both trigger asthma symptoms or lead to them in people without a previous history of asthma.
  • Mold: Molds can grow anywhere moisture is present. They commonly grow on wet or damp surfaces in locations bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. If molds are a problem in your home, controlling moisture may lead to better control of your asthma.
  • Cockroaches and other pests: Body parts, urine, and droppings of cockroaches and pests contain specific proteins that can trigger allergy symptoms. It is essential to remove hiding places for pests and keep countertops and other exposed areas free from food and water.
  • Pets: Allergens from your pets' dead skin, droppings, urine, and saliva can trigger asthma. If you have pets, try to have a pet-free area, such as the bedroom, and to clean your house frequently, especially rugs, upholstered furniture, and stuffed toys. If you're thinking of welcome a pet into your home, you might reconsider knowing how they can affect asthma symptoms.
  • Nitrogen dioxide: Nitrogen dioxide is a gas that comes from gas stoves, fireplaces, and gas space heaters that can irritate the lungs and lead to shortness of breath.

During the spring and fall, airborne pollens and molds commonly trigger asthma symptoms. These include:

  • Pollens: Pollens are small, powdery granules that are essential for plant fertilization. Weather conditions greatly influence the amount of pollen in the air. Pollen season will vary depending on where you live, but generally lasts from February to October. Pollens from many different kinds of grasses, weeds, and trees may trigger allergy symptoms.
  • Molds: There are many molds in the outdoor environment that become airborne, but un pollens, do not have a particular season. Many outdoor molds can be found in soil and outdoor vegetation.
  • Weather: You may notice that the weather significantly affects your asthma symptoms. On days that are hot, dry, and windy, pollen counts will ly be higher, and you may experience more asthma symptoms. Rain may also lead to increased molds that may worsen symptoms. On the other hand, days that are cloudy with very little wind may result in only minimal asthma symptoms. Because you cannot avoid weather allergens, you must have effective treatment for your asthma.

The common cold, influenza, and other respiratory infections may trigger your asthma. While you cannot always prevent a cold, you can do your best and try: Make sure you wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your nose or mouth while in public or when around someone with a cold, and get appropriate immunizations.

Though these triggers are less common, they are no less important.

  • Medications: A number of different medications may trigger your asthma. If you believe any medication is worsening your asthma, talk with your doctor about whether or not changing your dose or your drug regimen all together is advised. Some of the most common offenders are pain medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen) and beta blockers.
  • Certain foods: Certain food allergies (fish, soy, egg, wheat, tree nuts, and others) may also trigger your asthma. These reactions are more common in infants and children. Your doctor may ask you to keep a food diary to help determine if specific foods are worsening your (or your child's) asthma, or allergy testing may be needed to help get a diagnosis.
  • Exercise: If you notice symptoms wheezing or coughing while exercising, you may have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, commonly referred to as exercise-induced asthma. About 5% of the U.S. population has exercise-induced asthma and will benefit from getting a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

Because asthma runs in families, genetics must be one of the underlying risk factors. Over 100 different genes have been associated with allergic asthma , but they seem to bring only increased risk rather than clearly causing the condition. These genes are usually involved in your immune reactions and lung functions.

It may take an environmental exposure to trigger the epigenetic changes to the DNA that then produce the allergic reaction. As a result, allergic asthma may be seen being passed down through generations, though not all family members who carry the gene develop asthma.

The American Lung Association notes that you are three to six times more ly to have asthma if you have a parent who has asthma.

Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are common asthma triggers. If you smoke, quitting is the best course of action. This will also lessen the risk to those in your household.

Obesity is not only a risk factor for developing asthma, but people with asthma who are obese often have worse symptoms and control of their condition.

Avoiding your asthma triggers is part of controlling your asthma. Whether you are the person with asthma or you are caring for a child with asthma, you need to do some detective work to determine the triggers. Asking yourself the following questions may help:

  • Do the symptoms occur primarily at home or at work? This may indicate that there is an environmental component you need to find, molds, dusts, or odors.
  • Do the symptoms fluctuate with the season? This may indicate a more allergic condition, such as allergic rhinitis or hay fever.

While identifying the triggers may not always be easy, doing so will help you breathe easier.

If you can avoid asthma triggers, you can avoid a lot of problems that can come with your disease. Addressing asthma is a marathon. There is no cure, but the condition can be managed and symptoms placed under control will commitment to treatment and avoidance for the long term.

Thanks for your feedback!

What are your concerns?

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Kudo M, Ishigatsubo Y, Aoki I. Pathology of asthma. Front Microbiol. 2013;4:263. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2013.00263

  2. Asthma. American Lung Association. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/. Accessed July 5, 2019.

  3. Thomsen SF. Atopic dermatitis: natural history, diagnosis, and treatment. ISRN Allergy. 2014;2014:354250. doi:10.1155/2014/354250

  4. Owens L, Laing IA, Zhang G, Turner S, Le souëf PN. Prevalence of allergic sensitization, hay fever, eczema, and asthma in a longitudinal birth cohort. J Asthma Allergy. 2018;11:173-180. doi:10.2147/JAA.S170285

  5. Dales R, Liu L, Wheeler AJ, Gilbert NL. Quality of indoor residential air and health. CMAJ. 2008;179(2):147-52. doi:10.1503/cmaj.070359

  6. Gopal SH, Mukherjee S, Das SK. Direct and Second Hand Cigarette Smoke Exposure and Development of Childhood Asthma. J Environ Health Sci. 2016;2(6). PMID:29399637

  7. Fassio F, Guagnini F. House dust mite-related respiratory allergies and probiotics: a narrative review. Clin Mol Allergy. 2018;16:15. doi:10.1186/s12948-018-0092-9

  8. Do DC, Zhao Y, Gao P. Cockroach allergen exposure and risk of asthma. Allergy. 2016;71(4):463-74. doi:10.1111/all.12827

  9. Belanger K, Holford TR, Gent JF, Hill ME, Kezik JM, Leaderer BP. Household levels of nitrogen dioxide and pediatric asthma severity. Epidemiology. 2013;24(2):320-30. doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e318280e2ac

  10. Locksley RM, Fahy JV. Asthma and the flu: a tricky two-step. Immunol Cell Biol. 2014;92(5):389-91. doi:10.1038/icb.2014.24

  11. Lo PC, Tsai YT, Lin SK, Lai JN. Risk of asthma exacerbation associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in childhood asthma: A nationwide population-based cohort study in Taiwan. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(41):e5109. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000005109

  12. Del giacco SR, Firinu D, Bjermer L, Carlsen KH. Exercise and asthma: an overview. Eur Clin Respir J. 2015;2:27984. doi:10.3402/ecrj.v2.27984

  13. Aggarwal B, Mulgirigama A, Berend N. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: prevalence, pathophysiology, patient impact, diagnosis and management. NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2018;28(1):31. doi:10.1038/s41533-018-0098-2

  14. Thomsen SF. Genetics of asthma: an introduction for the clinician. Eur Clin Respir J. 2015;2. doi:10.3402/ecrj.v2.24643

  15. Mohanan S, Tapp H, Mcwilliams A, Dulin M. Obesity and asthma: pathophysiology and implications for diagnosis and management in primary care. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2014;239(11):1531-40. doi:10.1177/1535370214525302

Additional Reading

  • American Lung Association. Asthma Risk Factors.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consumer Information. Learn How To Control Asthma.

  • Environmental Protection Agency. Consumer Information. Indoor Environmental Asthma Triggers

  • Genetics Home Reference. Allergic Asthma.

  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Tips To Remember: Food Allergy

Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/asthma-causes-and-risk-factors-4014328