The main cause of asthma is not fully known to date. The strongest risk factors for developing asthma are a combination of genetic predisposition with environmental exposure to inhaled substances and particles that may provoke allergic reactions or irritate the airways. The genetic links are not well understood; however, studies found that if a parent has asthma, his/her offspring are twice as likely to suffer from it than a child whose parents do not have asthma.
Researchers are trying to understand the role of genes in suffering from asthma. There is a theory that indicates that there are people with genetically programmed responses to oxidative stress, a damaging chemical reaction within the body that results from stressors in the environment. Oxidative stress plays a role in asthma’s symptoms. For instance, foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, can help protect the lungs from oxidative stress, so that it can reduce the risk of asthma.
According to the Egyptian Scientific Society of Bronchology, the most common asthma triggers include:
Smoking is at the top of asthma triggers and smokers are most likely to get asthma. This also applies to passive smoking. Many studies found that children born to mothers, who were smoking during pregnancy or who live in a home that has a smoking parent, are at increased risk of developing asthma. People who smoke cigarettes are more likely to get asthma, and those who suffer from asthma and continue to smoke, display more severe symptoms, such as coughing and wheezing.
- Cleaning products
Spray cleaners, including glass cleaners, furniture cleaners, diluted bleach, de-greasers, and air fresheners, are all on the list of possible asthma triggers among people who use them regularly, more than once a week. Researchers found that employees in cleaning occupations are at a higher risk in developing asthma than those who use spray cleaners at home.
A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine included over 3,000 adults who did not have asthma when the study began. The researchers found that adults who used cleaning sprays more than once a week suffered from asthmatic attacks, and the risk of asthma increased as the use of sprays increased.
Allergens are substances that disturb lung airways and are linked to developing asthma. Some common allergens include pollen, grasses, molds, pet hair, and dust mites. The asthmatic attacks of people who are allergic to pollen are very extensive during the spring and early months of the summer. On the other hand, people who are allergic to dust mites could encounter asthma symptoms along the year.
- Air pollution
A recent research found that gas heaters and stoves as a source of nitrogen dioxide, therefore increasing the risk of asthma in young children.
- Air fresheners
Air freshener, sprayed or plugged into the wall, can lead to sneezing and wheezing. Fragrances can trigger asthma and may lead also to allergic reactions.
Cold air and changes in temperature can cause asthma. Humidity may also trigger asthmatic attacks.