Asthma in Teens and Adults
What Increases Your Risk
Many things can increase your risk for asthma. Some of these are not within your control. Others you can control.
Personal and family history
- Gender and age. Women and men seem to have the same risk of getting asthma until they reach their 40s. After 40, women have a higher risk for asthma.
- A family history of allergies and asthma. People who have an allergy and asthma usually have a family history of allergies or asthma.
- Airways that overreact. People who inherit a tendency of the Reference airways Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window to overreact often get asthma.
- A history of allergy. If you have an allergy, you are more likely than others to have asthma. Most children and many adults with asthma have Reference atopic dermatitis Opens New Window, allergies, or both.
Other things that increase your risk
- Cigarette smoking. People who smoke are more likely to get asthma than people who don't. If you already have asthma and you smoke, it may make your symptoms worse.
- Cigarette smoking during pregnancy. This raises the risk of wheezing in babies. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy also have worse lung function than those whose mothers didn't smoke.
- Workplace exposure to irritants or allergens. This causes Reference occupational asthma. Irritants or allergens also can make symptoms worse in people who already have asthma.
- Cockroaches. Cockroach droppings in a child's home have been linked to a higher risk for asthma.Reference 7
- Obesity. Being obese raises your risk for asthma. Weight gain can make asthma worse.Reference 8
Risk factors that may make asthma worse (triggers)
Reference Triggers that may make asthma worse and may lead to asthma attacks include:
- Infections, such as severe Reference upper respiratory infections (URIs) Opens New Window. URIs cause more than half of the asthma attacks in adults.Reference 9, Reference 10
- Allergens, such as dust mites, mold, or Reference pet dander Opens New Window, in people allergic to them.Reference 7
Possible risk factors that need more research
Experts aren't yet sure:
- Whether breast-feeding raises a child's asthma risk or protects a child from asthma. A large study following children until 14 years of age found that breast-feeding was not linked to asthma.Reference 11 Mothers are encouraged to breast-feed their children for all the other proven health benefits that come from breast-feeding.
- About the effect that pets in the home have on getting asthma. Some research shows that having cats or dogs in the home raises an adult's risk of getting asthma.Reference 12 But other research has seemed to show that being around pets early in life might actually protect a child against getting asthma.Reference 13 If your child already has asthma and allergies to pets, having a pet in the home will make his or her asthma worse.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 22, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology