Asthma is a disease that we have not yet worked out what exactly causes it. There is no direct chain of events that effects every asthma sufferer. There is some evidence that asthma is a genetic condition, as people inherit the tendency towards inflamed airways the primary problem associated with asthma. If a child’s parents both have asthma, they are statistically more likely to suffer from the illness themselves but this is not always the case. Similarly, a child can have asthma even if there is no genetic history of it in their family. It really does seem to be the luck of the draw.
People who suffer from asthma are more likely to have allergies, particularly to dust mites and hay fever But again, this is not a certain link: lots of people who have hay fever do not have asthma, for example, just as lots of people who have asthma do not have hay fever.
There are no known substances that are thought to actively cause asthma though certain things, such as chemicals, allergens and smoke are known to exacerbate an existing condition.
It is natural when you, or someone you know, is diagnosed with asthma to question why it has happened.
Unfortunately, asthma is one of the many illnesses that simply do not have a specific and clear-cut cause for why they have occurred. Learning to accept that sometimes, quite genuinely, these things do just happen is an important part of coming to terms with their asthma diagnosis.
Finally, if you are a parent and are concerned about passing asthma on to your children, this is by no means a certainty, so try not to fret.
The Link Between Asthma and Allergies
Understanding medicine is a complex business that requires years of study, often to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt things that sufferers of illnesses have long accepted as fact. One such accepted, though not medically confirmed, fact is that there is a link between asthma and allergies.
While it is known that some substances such as tobacco smoke can make asthma more difficult to deal with, there is no conclusive proof of a link between asthma and allergies. Many sufferers believe there is no need to fund expensive medical studies to prove a link that is well known, and is often discussed by doctors during treatment of asthma.
Without medical studies, it is difficult to say what exactly the link is, but it does appear that people who suffer from any severity level of asthma are more likely to suffer from allergies. The most prevalent allergy is to dust mites, or general household dust. While dust has long been known to affect the lungs of asthma sufferers, it would appear that it can also manifest itself as a skin allergy. Sufferers report excessive itching and other physical discomforts aside from problems with their breathing, though these can be controlled using general anti-histamines.
Hay fever is another common affliction that has become associated with asthma, but again this can be dealt with using over-the-counter anti-histamine remedies. It is merely something asthma sufferers should be aware of, as related allergies can apparently appear at any time no matter how long they have been suffering with asthma. If you find yourself experiencing physical allergy symptoms, contact your GP for diagnosis and treatment.
Can Exercise Cause Asthma?
There is great debate among the medical community on the issue of Exercise-Induced Asthma. This is a type of asthma attack that occurs at a particular time; namely, during or after exercise. Some physicians insist that exercise-induced asthma does not exist and is simply a by-product of the sufferer being unfit and this attitude extends to the general populace.
In reality, exercise-induced asthma is a very real problem that can effect thousands of people every year. It occurs when someone who already has asthma undergoes any kind of physical activity. Asthma is caused by an irritation in the tubes of the lungs, and studies have shown that the faster an asthma sufferer breathes, the more likely it is they will suffer from the traditional symptoms such as wheezing or coughing.
When we exercise, we get out of breath. This is a natural by-product of exercise and applies to even the fittest, Olympic-standard of athletes. If someone with asthma gets out of breath and begins to breathe faster, this can indeed trigger an asthma attack, as the tubes of their lungs become inflamed due to the speed of breathing.
However, there is no such thing as exercise-induced asthma without an existing asthma condition. Exercise does not create asthma; it merely worsens an existing problem. So if you only exhibit asthma symptoms during exercise you most likely do not suffer from it and a trip to your doctor might be a good idea.