Asthma FAQs (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Causes Asthma?
While there is no known specific cause of asthma, what all people with asthma have in common is chronic airway inflammation. Their airways are highly sensitive to various triggers. When their airways come into contact with a trigger, the airways become inflamed (they fill with mucus, swell, and narrow). Then muscles within the airways contract, causing even further narrowing of the airways. This makes breathing difficult and results in an asthma attack.
Triggers are different for different individuals. Common ones include the following:
Changes in weather can also trigger asthma attacks because of the irritants and allergens stirred up by wind and rain.
Asthma is on the rise in the United States and other developed countries. While the reasons are not clear, the following factors may contribute to the rise:
Who Gets Asthma?
Asthma affects millions of people worldwide. The number of people affected is eight to 10 times higher in industrialized countries than in developing ones.
Children age 10 and younger account for half of asthma cases. In most children, asthma develops before they are 5 years of age, and in more than half, asthma develops before they are 3 years of age.
More than twice as many boys than girls have asthma, although boys are more likely to experience a decrease in symptoms as they reach adolescence. In adult-onset asthma, the number is reversed. Twice as many women than men visit the emergency department and are admitted to the hospital with asthma.
Asthma affects all races worldwide but is more common in blacks and Hispanics, but this may be due to socioeconomic conditions rather than genetics.
Occupational asthma (asthma triggered at work by exposure to irritants present at the workplace) is most common in those who work with animals or animal-derived products and in industries such as plastics, rubber, chemical, textile, electronics, painting, printing, metalworking, baking, and gardening.
Risk factors for asthma include the following:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2016
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