Healthy Living

What Causes Asthma?

What Causes Asthma?

Key Takeaways

  • Asthma can be triggered by allergies, strenuous exercise, heartburn, smoking, sinusitis, and infections.
  • The actual causes for the inflammation that derives from asthma is still unknown.

Asthma refers to the chronic inflammatory disease of the respiratory system. The causes for asthma differ depending on the individual. During an asthma attack, the airways become narrow, inflamed, and begin to fill with mucus. This makes breathing a difficult task, and leads to coughing and wheezing, which are the characteristic symptoms of this disease. The actual cause of asthma is still unknown. A number of triggers have been found to be associated with this disease. Understanding and identifying the triggers for asthma helps in preventing this chronic disease. 

Some of the most common asthma triggers include:

  • Allergies – Asthma caused by allergic reactions, known as allergic asthma, is very common. Grass, animal dander, mold, and dust mites are all known to trigger allergic asthma. Many people have exacerbations of asthma after the exposure to dust, particularly because of dust mite allergies. Many foods are also known to trigger allergic reactions, including eggs, peanuts, fish, shrimp, certain fresh fruits, and wheat. Food preservatives, like sodium bisulphite and sodium metabisulphite, can trigger allergies and asthma in those who are prone to this disease.
  • Strenuous exercise – Many people suffer from asthma triggered by strenuous exercise, which narrows the air passage. The main symptoms of exercise-induced asthma includes tightness in the chest region, coughing, and difficulty breathing during exercise.
  • Heartburn – Studies show that asthma and heartburn are associated in more than 80% of cases. The reflux of the stomach content into the esophagus that causes heartburn may trigger asthma cause throat inflammation.
  • Smoking – This is one of the most common triggers for asthma in adults. Smoking may also increase the severity of wheezing and coughing. If pregnant women smoke, it increases the child's risk for wheezing.
  • Sinusitis – Sinusitis results in the inflammation of the mucous membranes and overproduction of mucus, a condition similar to that of asthma. Inflammation of the sinuses lead to a similar response, like asthma.
  • Infections – A number of infections, like the flu, sinusitis, and bronchitis may result in an asthma attack. Most of the upper respiratory infections results in the narrowing of the airways. Most people with allergic rhinitis and sinusitis also develop asthma.