What Causes Asthma?

It isn’t clear why some people develop asthma and others don’t. There are a variety of environmental and genetic (inherited) factors that play a role in you developing the condition.

Asthma triggers

Some common asthma triggers are;

  • Exposure to pollen, dust mites, mould spores or pet dander
  • Chest infections
  • Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
  • Cold air
  • Pollution or second hand smoke
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Stress
  • Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat

Risk factors

There are a number of risk factors that could increase your chances of developing asthma.

These include:

  • A blood relative with asthma
  • If you suffer from another allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Being overweight
  • Being a smoker
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Exhaust fumes or other types of pollution
  • Chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing


Sometimes complications can occur, these can include:

  • Signs and symptoms that interfere with sleep, work or recreational activities
  • Absence from work or school
  • Permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes (airway remodelling) that affects how well you can breathe
  • Emergency room visits and hospitalisations for severe asthma attacks
  • Side effects from long-term use of some medications used to stabilise severe asthma

As a result getting the right treatment can make a big difference in preventing both short-term and long-term complications caused by asthma. It’s important to contact your G.P. if you suspect you have the condition.

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