Top 10 Causes of Asthma You Should Know About
Hundreds of millions of people find themselves wheezing and struggling to breathe on a daily or on a seasonal basis – and many of them are our children (asthma is actually the most common disease among kids).
And then hundreds of thousands of people die each year from asthma.
Then there are millions of people in the same city, the same workplace, the same school… who breathe just fine every single day of their lives.
So what gives? Why is this happening? What causes asthma? How come some people can walk into a room and breathe just fine while others end up with an asthma attack?
As you are about to see, there are not very clear answers for these questions. But there are some clues that can help point you in the right direction to understanding your asthma triggers.
So I want to dive into 10 of those most common reasons you could be experiencing the symptoms of asthma. For each cause, I’ll also leave you with some solutions that could lessen your symptoms.
First Off – Are You Born With Asthma Or Do You Develop Asthma?
Short answer: maybe both.
There’s not one, clear thing that makes a person an asthmatic. There are many different reasons you could have asthma, and there are many different triggers that spur on asthmatic episodes.
Sometimes it boils down to luck, other times it’s all about your parent’s genetics, and sometimes it’s about what you were or weren’t exposed to as a child. It’s genetic, and it’s environmental.
If you parents have asthma, you probably will too – so in this case, you were probably born with it. But there are many cases of developing asthma after birth:
- Some researchers believe that our society’s obsession with keeping everything very clean and even sterile does not allow children to come into enough contact with their environment. This can then lead to oversensitivity to allergens, a weakened immune system, and asthma.
- If a child has many respiratory infections in childhood, they may end up with asthma.
- Exposure to certain allergens or viruses in childhood can lead to asthma later in life
Other people have a perfect combo of genetics and developmental factors.
But once you do have asthma, there are many different things that will cause an asthma attack. Let’s learn more about these:
The very same substances that cause seasonal allergies (also known has hay fever) often bring upon allergic asthma too. This is why many people with seasonal or chronic allergies also have asthma.
Top offenders include:
- Mold/mold spores
- Dust/dust mites
- Pet dander
- Cockroach parts
One of the best ways to deal with this is to really stay on top of cleaning your house, cleaning your hair, and cleaning your sheets regularly. You can also try to stay inside as much as possible when the pollen count is high.
The environment all around you plays a large role in preventing or aggravating your asthma. We often only think of city smog when it comes to pollution (and that certainly is terrible for asthma), but air pollution can be everywhere – even your home. Big environmental causes of asthma include:
- Workplace chemicals
- Household chemicals (often from cleaners or beauty products)
- Exhaust fumes
- Wood fires
- Charcoal grills
- Strong fumes or odors
You can’t always control what’s outside your home, but you can choose your at-home products wisely. Aim for those with all-natural ingredients. Throw out your conventional candles and diffuse essential oils instead.
For both allergens and toxic environmental chemicals in your home, you can get professional indoor air pollution service to use their services to test your home.
While tobacco could technically fall under either the “allergies” or “environment” categories too, it is such a significant cause of asthma that it deserves its own section.
People who smoke have a significantly higher chance of developing asthma. And this makes sense, right? This tobacco smoke constantly entering your lungs is an obvious problem just waiting to happen.
And keep this in mind: second-hand smoke is just as dangerous. Children born to smoking parents are significantly more likely to end up with asthma and allergy issues.
The more overweight you are, the higher your chance of developing asthma. And the good news is: this cause of asthma is highly reversible. Lose the weight; ditch the breathing problems. Though innate asthma triggers could still bring attacks, you are greatly reducing asthma problems as you bring down the weight.
You must begin a safe weight loss program to improve your breathing. This includes a diet overhaul as well as a regimen of regular, moderate exercise. But choose your exercise program with care…we’ll learn more in our next cause of asthma.
I just told you to get more exercise to help you with asthma, but there’s a catch. Exercise can also induce asthma attacks.
Normally, a few minutes after starting your exercise and increase your breathing, you will start to experience asthma symptoms. This is especially true if you are outside in the cold. When this happens to you, it is said you have either exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or exercise-induced asthma.
It’s important to seek treatment instead of avoiding exercise. The rest of your body (and your entire respiratory system) needs you to keep exercising.
There are a handful of otherwise safe and helpful medications that are known to cause asthma problems. This includes:
- Ibuprofen (like Advil or Motrin)
- Beta blockers
If you are asthmatic, take these medications with caution. Talk to your doctor about safe alternatives if you are concerned about your breathing.
Any sort of sickness that has to do with your respiratory system can bring you an acute case of asthma, especially in children. This often happens when you get:
- Common cold
- Sinus, throat, or lung infections
Many times this type of asthma is short-lived. Once you are all better, you won’t continue to have asthma for the rest of your life.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable or even scary while it’s there. Your doctor may have you breathing treatments or inhalers to bring home with you.
8. Sulfites or Preservatives
Add asthma to the long list of reasons to avoid sulfites and other food preservatives as much as humanly possible.
While many preservatives could trigger an asthma attack, sulfites tend to be the worst. They are used to improve food and drink freshness. Here are some ways to limit your exposure to sulfites in particular:
- Choose fresh food instead of boxed, processed food
- Limit alcohol exposure or find sulfite-free versions
- Avoid dried fruits, molasses, sauerkraut and bottled lemon or lime juices
- Ask your pharmacist if your medication contains sulfites
Where a woman is in her menstrual cycle can actually bring on asthma, as can pregnancy or menopause.
Female hormones actually play a significant role in how your body responds to allergens. Don’t think by simply having estrogen, you’re more prone to asthma. It’s the rise and drop of estrogen that really causes the problem.
In fact, the average woman who comes into the hospital for an asthma attack will most likely be just about to start her period.
Tracking your cycles is important so you can prepare for possible problems each month. If you are concerned about asthma during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about safe medical options.
8. Stress and Other Strong Emotions
When you are stressed, you often participate in asthma-inducing activities like smoking or eating too much (which can lead to being overweight).
But the stress itself can actually cause asthma symptoms too. So it’s vital to reduce it as much as possible:
- Get plenty of sleep each night
- Try daily meditation
- Diffuse stress-relieving essential oils like lavender or frankincense
- Talk to a therapist
It’s not only stress that can bring about an asthma attack, so can any other strong emotion like anger or excitement – crying or even lots of laughter can leave you out of breath. Obviously, you can’t avoid emotion as a human – but you can learn how to control the symptoms.
Weather extremes like high humidity, cold, wind (especially really dry winds), storms etc. can aggravate asthma. Or when the weather changes suddenly, you could be in for an attack too.
Obviously, this is not something you can avoid in the way you can avoid mold in your home or eating sulfites. But if your asthma is severe enough, you can consider relocating to a location with temperate weather and mild to moderate humidity.
You can also download detailed weather apps that will clue you in about upcoming weather changes so you can be prepared for what’s to come.
10. Your Genes
At the end of the day it really is this simple: if your parents have asthma, you probably will too.
While researchers have been able to pinpoint a few things that are passed down from parent to child. One is something called atopy, which is simply a genetic tendency to develop allergies.
You will also probably pass it on to your children.
Here’s what this means for you: a whole variety of triggers could bring upon an asthma attack, so stay alert and prepared.
So What’s Causing Your Asthma?
Figuring out which of these common asthma causes is making it hard for you to breathe is really helpful.
Keeping a journal of everything you eat and do for a couple weeks can allow you to see what happened right before each asthma attack. Keep in mind that it could be multiple factors.
You can also go to the doctor and get allergy tests to see what substances you should avoid as much as possible.
Knowing your causes allows you to better utilize both your life-saving inhalers as well as all-natural supplements like Quercetin, nettle leaf, or boswellia. You’ll always be prepared.
Read Next: 7 Asthma Types: They’re Not All The Same