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The Causes and Risks of Asthma
Diagnosing Asthma
Complications of Asthma
Treatment of Asthma
Prevention of Asthma

The Causes and Risk Factors of Asthma

      Those people with an inherited predisposition to asthma are more likely than others to develop the disease. As well, those people who are highly sensitive to allergens and other environmental factors are at increased risk. The inflammation of the bronchial tubes that causes asthma renders the air passages hyper sensitive to many environmental triggers. Asthma can develop at any age, from children to seniors. Most people with asthma under the age of 30 experience allergies that often trigger asthma. For those over the age of 30 with asthma, allergies to airborne particles are common. Older people with asthma often don't suffer from respiratory allergies, but instead react to the exposure to irritants such as smoke, cold air and even stress.

What is Asthma

      Asthma is chronic condition that results when the primary air passages of the lungs - the bronchial tubes - become inflamed. The bronchial wall's muscles tighten and produce mucus, causing the airways to narrow, leading to minor or severe wheezing to extreme difficulty in breathing. Asthma attacks can be life threatening. Asthma is a treatable disease and most deaths are preventable. Due to recent advances in diagnosis, management and treatment, many people with asthma live healthy, active lives.

The most common cause of asthma is a combination of allergic and non allergic responses. Common triggers include:

1) Allergens (exs. pollen and molds)
2) Air pollutants
3) Respiratory infections (ex. the common cold)
4) Smoke
5) Cold air
6) Some medications (exs. beta blockers, aspirin, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
7) Stress
8) Preservatives (ex. sulfites)
9) Sinusitis
10) Gastro esophageal reflux disease
11) Cockroaches

Risk Factors of Asthma

      The incidence of asthma has been dramatically on the rise. This is particularly true for those adults and children living in cities. Asthma is the most common chronic illness in children and is more common in boys. Once children reach puberty, asthma becomes more common in females.

Factors that may increase the chances of developing asthma.
1) Urban living (likely due to increased exposure to environmental pollutants)
2) Exposure to certain chemicals, such as those used in paint, plastics or hair products
3) Secondhand smoke
4) A parent with asthma
5) High incidence of respiratory infection in childhood
6) Obesity
7) Low birth weight
8) Gastroesophageal reflux disease

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides outstanding resources for those suffering from asthma and it's complications. For parents of asthmatic children, the Allergy & Asthmatic Network Mothers of Asthmatics offers excellent information for both parents and children.

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