Asthma in Teens and Adults
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.
The main things that put you at risk for getting asthma as an
adult are ongoing (chronic) wheezing when you were a child and cigarette
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
- Airways that overreact. People who inherit a tendency of the
airways to overreact often get
- 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
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 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.7
- Obesity. Being obese raises your risk for asthma. Weight gain can make asthma worse.8
Risk factors that may make asthma worse (triggers)
Triggers that may make asthma worse and may lead to
asthma attacks include:
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.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.12 But other research
has seemed to show that being around pets early in life might actually protect
a child against getting asthma.13 If your child already
has asthma and allergies to pets, having a pet in the home will make his or her
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
February 13, 2011
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