A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop asthma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing asthma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Risk factors for asthma include:
It has been noted that asthma tends to run in families. People whose immediate blood relatives have asthma are more likely to develop the disease.
Genes and your environment play a role in the development of asthma. When asthma runs in families, genetic factors play a relatively large role. When asthma does not run in families, the genetic influence may not be as significant as the environmental exposures.
People who have allergies (especially allergic rhinitis, eczema, and severe food allergies) have a greater chance of developing asthma. Allergens that may be associated with asthma include: PollenAnimal danderMitesMoldsDust and dust mitesCertain foods
The following medical conditions increase your risk of developing asthma: Wheezing episodes before 3 years of ageRespiratory infections in childhood, especially bronchiolitisLow birth weight and premature deliveryGastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)Obesity
Although asthma can develop at any age, the majority of cases are found in children between the ages of 2-17.
Exposure to Toxins
Frequent exposure to the following potential toxins increases your risk of developing asthma: Smoking or second-hand tobacco smokeDamp house and mold exposureCockroach and dust-mite allergensGas cooking and wood stoves
Occupational irritants, such as chemicals used in:
FarmingCleaningBeauty salonsPaintingManufacturing workWood workHigh levels of air pollution, particularly in an urban environmentChlorinated pool environment
Asthma affects people of all ethnic backgrounds. However, it is slightly more common in blacks and Hispanics than in whites.
Asthma in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 11, 2015. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Asthma in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 27, 2015. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Asthma exacerbation in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 15, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Asthma exacerbation in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 22, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2015.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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