Healthy Living

Can Asthma Only Be Induced by Allergies?

Heredity, lifestyle choices and environmental factors can trigger the onset of asthma

Can Asthma Only Be Induced by Allergies?

Key Takeaways

  • Asthma can be cured, treated and managed with medications and natural therapies like yoga, but cannot be cured completely.
  • Multiple factors could trigger asthma like weather changes, environmental triggers, genetic variables, strenuous activity such as exercise, any structural abnormality in the lung or exposure to lung infections in the first year of a toddler's life, certain medicines and stress.

Asthma describes the conditions and complications following the narrowing of bronchioles within lungs. This results in shortness of breath, coughing and a kind of loud wheezing accompanied by chest tightening.

Although asthma can be cured, treated and managed with certain medications and natural therapies involving yoga, the major fact lies in the bitter truth that it cannot be cured completely.

The popular perception that specific allergens induce asthma is only partially true. There are multiple factors that lead the way to inflamed respiratory passages and reduce the intake of air into the lungs.

The genetic trigger that predisposes a person to asthma

Genetic variables have always played an active role in aggravating flare-ups of asthma within the family. It is widely believed that genetically mutated DNA reacts to environmental pressures and childhood infections to manifest as asthma.

Eczema, the condition that leads to blotchy, dry, reddish and hardened skin along with hay fever builds up the immune systems response to allergens in the atmosphere; despite this, some asthma cases are linked to the family histories in one way or the other. In fact, it is noted 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 likely to develop asthma than someone whose parents never suffered from asthma.

Events following birth of the child that trigger asthma

The month immediately after birth and the first years of the toddler’s life are crucial periods. Any structural abnormality in the lung or exposure to lung infections during this period could trigger the recurrence of asthma. Babies born prematurely and with incompletely developed lungs become prone to infections and inflammation.

If the mother is a smoker, second-hand smoke could worsen the baby’s lungs. Doctors therefore advise the parents to take extra care of their child during the first four to six months of birth as in this period, the infants' immune system is literally very fragile and delicate; any allergy if infused at this point may prove to be fatal to his or her health.

Hypersensitivity of immune system to environmental triggers

Clinical comparisons of asthmatic individuals and normal individuals clearly reveal markedly differing immune reactions. In normal individuals, we see typical immune reactions to fighting infection or injury within the respiratory tract.  But in people with hypersensitive immune systems, the body tends to release substances that activate mucus secretion leading to tightening and constriction of bronchioles causing fits of coughing. People having a hypersensitive immune system are more prone as it acts as a factor to boost the side effects caused by asthma. 

Asthma induced through strenuous activity

Otherwise healthy and allergen-free individuals leading a normal life could suffer asthma attacks brought on by strenuous activity such as exercise. It appears that exercise triggers a tightening of the bronchioles thereby narrowing these air passages. This is also referred to as bronchoconstriction, and it severely reduces the amount of air that the lungs admit. The only way to manage this type of asthma is through a regular program of medication with progress reviewed periodically through Lung Function Tests. 

Keeping asthma under control enables the individual to lead an active and normal life. The only precaution an individual needs to maintain from his side is to ensure that he avoids heavy lifting of weights by replacing it with light weight exercises involving yoga and other herbal medications or therapies.

Changing weather conditions could play spoilsport for asthmatics

While it’s not possible to control the weather, you can take steps to limit asthma attacks. The best way to avoid climate-connected asthma is to first identify what your triggers are. Specific weather triggers will vary from individual to individual.

In some individuals, hot and humid weather conditions or cold and dry winter conditions provoke asthma attacks. This is especially true of people who regularly perform outdoor exercises. Though the specific reason is a mystery, it has been speculated that excessive movement of the body causes dehydration with hot or wintry weather depleting the moisture on the surface of the skin and within internal tissues. The sudden drop in moisture content creates a ground for inflammation and airways constriction leading to an asthmatic attack.

If your asthma tends to worsen in hot summer months, use an air conditioner and try to stay in a controlled environment. Another effective way to control weather-triggered asthma is to abide by taking your prescribed asthma medications on time.

Medication-induced asthma attacks

Surprising as it may seem, medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory drugs) that are widely used to control inflammation produce adverse reactions in people that are sensitive to these medicines. They provoke changes in fatty acid metabolism producing molecules that provoke lung airways to contract and narrow the air passages.

It is therefore advised that every asthma patient must first undergo the required test to check which medicines suit his health requirement and then go further with consuming it.

The stress – asthma connect 

With or without asthma, stress is a part of our daily lives. That's why it is important to find effective ways to manage stress levels in the body, if by any chance you do have any possible symptom leading to asthma. Among the various remedies and solutions, learning to relax before you feel stressed can help you prevent shortness of breath that can help avoid an asthma attack.

The connection between stress and asthma attacks is known and speculated hotly but little understood. The adrenal gland (located above the kidney) releases cortisol, a hormonal substance that controls the immune system’s reaction to inflammation. Cortisol sparks the conversion of proteins and fatty acids into glucose used as fuel to improve our stress response. With lower levels of cortisol, the body may find it difficult to combat stress and control inflammation, paving the way for asthma attacks. 

The best cure for this disorder lies in indulging in therapies and meditations where you can train your body to feel relaxed and avoid unnecessary chaos.