Did you know that there's a difference between what causes and triggers asthma? The causes of asthma is a medical explanation for why an individual is suffering from the chronic inflammatory disease. The triggers, however, are specific factors that cause an asthma attack to take place. Let's that a closer look at the two.
Causes of asthma
Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, many medical professionals believe that both genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development – generally early in an individual's life.1 Most commonly, a child is more likely to have asthma if it runs in his or her family. Other factors may include:
- Exposure to a viral infection when the immune system is still developing
- Respiratory infections throughout childhood
- Contact with airborne allergens and other irritants, like tobacco smoke
Researchers are unable to pinpoint an exact cause due to the fact that asthma develops and affects people differently. But when it comes to environmental and other factors that may trigger an attack, we have a better handle on things.
Triggers for asthma attacks
When an individual who has been diagnosed with asthma is exposed to certain irritants, it is likely that they will trigger a reaction. Although not all allergens will have the same effect on every person, the following may result in an attack:2
- Cold air
- Stress and other strong emotions
- Airborne allergens: animal dander, pollen, mold and dust mites
- Respiratory infections: this can be as simple as a common cold
- Exercise-induced asthma: triggered by physical activity
- Pollutants: smoke and exhaust from a vehicle
- Medications: beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen may trigger a reaction
- Sulfites: these and other preservatives that are added to certain foods and drinks may have a negative effect
Putting adults at a greater risk
The University of Melbourne recently found that traffic pollution and smoke from wood fires may worsen the symptoms of asthma in adults, according to The Melbourne Newsroom.3 The study included 1,383 adults aged 44 who were surveyed on their exposure to these two triggers. Over a 12-month period, the participants reported their symptoms and flare-ups as well.
Researchers found that these middle-aged adults who had asthma experienced an 80 percent increased in their symptoms when exposed to heavy traffic pollution, and 11 percent for wood fire exposure. Although these findings are great for pinpointing additional triggers for asthma, they do not indicate that traffic pollution and wood smoke are a cause for the health concern.
In addition to turning to health care professionals for treatment, those diagnosed with asthma may want to make lifestyle changes to avoid triggers for making their ways into homes. This can be as simply as changing air filters regularly and making sure that pets are regularly groomed. Those who are treating individuals suffering from asthma can turn to Medex Supply for respiratory equipment. These medical supplies include:
1 National Institutes of Health, "What causes asthma?" June 15, 2012
2 Mayo Clinic, "Asthma: causes" May 26, 2012
3 The Melbourne Newsroom, "Traffic pollution and wood smoke increases asthma in adults" August 20, 2013