Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs, which is often hereditary; that is, your genes are to be blamed for this disease.(1) Asthma can develop at any age; however, children of parents suffering from asthma or children with a family history of asthma are at higher risk of getting asthma when they’re younger.
There is a strong link between genetics and asthma; however, not everyone who has asthma in their family history will develop this lifelong illness. Some people develop asthma without any family history of this disease whatsoever.
The Role of Genes in Asthma(1,2,3,5,6)
One of the strongest risk factors is genetic predisposition for developing asthma. A baby is not born with asthma, but can be born with genes that decide if you will get asthma when you are an infant or a child.
According to studies, children whose mothers are suffering from asthma are thrice likely to develop asthma too. And children whose fathers have asthma are 2.5 times more likely to develop asthma. Despite all this, it does not necessarily mean that you will get asthma even if you have a family history; however, your risk for it is definitely increased.
A study done on twins suffering from asthma showed that about 66% of patients suffering had asthma associated with environmental factors and the rest were genetic.(3)
One more research has shown that if parents are suffering from asthma, amongst their children only one of their child may get it; not necessarily all the children.
Research is still ongoing with regards to genes and asthma as this disease is one of the leading chronic illnesses in the world. Clinical research can also look beyond family history and start investigating at ancestry specifically.
The Importance of Managing Asthma(1)
Asthma can be managed by taking your medications regularly as the doctor has prescribed and it is also important to avoid any known triggers if you want your asthma to be under control.
Genes or your family history cannot be changed; what can be done is to take measures to control and manage your asthma and perhaps you can also cut down on the risk of developing asthma as an adult.
What Are The Other Risk Factors Or Causes Of Asthma?(1,4)
A person can still develop asthma even if they do not have a family history of this disease. Some of the possible risk factors and causes of asthma are:
- Having a history of autoimmune diseases.
- Having a family or personal history of allergies.
- Premature birth increases the risk for asthma.
- Having eczema or hay fever increases the risk for asthma.
- Obesity or being overweight increases the risk for asthma.
- Consistent exposure to gases, air pollution and chemical fumes definitely increases the risk for developing asthma.
- Hormonal changes during menopause in women also can increase the risk for asthma.
- Frequent exposure to cigarette smoke or smoking definitely increases the risk for developing asthma.
- Viral upper-respiratory infections are one of the commonest cause for short-term (acute) asthma, which often gets better and your illness improves.
- Having lung infections at a younger age; specifically RSV, also increases the risk of asthma as you grow up.
What are Asthma Triggers?(1,4)
Some of the common triggers for flare-ups of asthma are:
- Upper respiratory tract infections (viruses).
- Seasonal allergies, such as ragweed pollen, grass and tree.
- Smoke or air pollution.
- Changes in weather, especially extreme cold and dryness can trigger asthma symptoms.
- Mold and pet dander are other common asthma triggers.
- Chemical odors and food additives are also trigger asthma symptoms.
- Cockroaches and dust mites can easily cause asthma flare-ups.
- Exercise and any type of stress can cause your asthma to flare up.
- Beta-blocker medications can trigger your asthma.
How Can You Lower Your Risk for Developing Asthma?(1)
The risk for developing asthma later in life can be reduced by the following:
- Controlling your stress is an important way to cut down on your risk of asthma.
- Avoiding occupational hazards is important, which expose you to airborne fumes and chemicals.
- A smoker should completely stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke to reduce the risk of developing asthma later on.
- Always keep your home clean from dust, pet dander, mold, dust mites etc.
- Losing weight if you are overweight helps in reducing the risk of asthma.
The most important thing to do is avoid triggers and allergens to avoid getting asthma.
What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma?(1)
Asthma occurs when there is inflammation, swelling and constriction of the airways resulting in decreased reduced airflow, which gives rise to the following symptoms: coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, fatigue, shortness of breath and increased mucus production.
Can You Get Remission From Asthma?
Yes, at some point in your life, you can enter remission from asthma, but your symptoms can come back later, which are largely associated with asthma triggers, that can lead to long-term or short-term asthma symptoms.
What Is Meant By Poorly Controlled Asthma?
A patient will have less symptoms of asthma if the asthma is controlled using medications. However, if the patient persists having symptoms of asthma and depends on the quick-relief inhalers, then it means that the asthma is poorly controlled.
Some of the common signs of poorly controlled asthma are:
- Difficulty in exercising.
- Difficulty in sleeping at night.
- The inability to perform activities that are normally enjoyable.
- Frequent and persistent asthma attacks.
When to Consult Your Doctor?
If your condition isn’t improving or if you’re experiencing worsening asthma symptoms, then it is important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor will modify your treatment plan so that your symptoms are better controlled and also the damage to your airways is reduced.
Genes are lot to be blamed for asthma for most of the patients. The risk for developing asthma is more if you have a family history of asthma.
The symptoms of asthma continue to abate and flare up throughout your life; and this makes it extremely important to strictly follow your doctor’s asthma plan.
Patients, who do not have asthma because of their genes, will have it because of the environmental factors, such as stress, smoke exposure and severe allergies. Any type of hormone fluctuations or severe illness can cause asthma to develop later in the adulthood.
Whatever the cause of the asthma, what is important is controlling and managing your asthma, taking medication as prescribed by the doctor, avoiding asthma triggers and keeping a track of your asthma symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately if your asthma is worsening instead of improving.
- Asthma: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies, Prevention
- Can You Grow Out of Asthma?
- Ways to Treat Asthma Naturally
- Which Medicines Make Asthma Worse?
- Why Do Asthma Symptoms Vary With the Weather Changes?
- Uses of Inhalers in Asthma & Its Side Effects
- Link Between Asthma and Pneumonia