What Causes Asthma? The 6 Most Common Causes

By Kirstie Ganobsik HealthDay Reporter

HealthDay News, Wednesday May 10, 2023 -- By understanding what causes asthma and its triggers, you can better manage it.

You can take control of your asthma symptoms, whether you or your child has it, by understanding the causes and how to manage them.

What is asthma?

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Asthma, a chronic disease that causes inflammation and swelling in the tissues of the airways, is also known as a chronic inflammatory condition. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, this causes your airways to narrow, making breathing more difficult.

Asthma affects about 1 in 13 Americans. People with asthma are more likely to be seniors, low income, Hispanics, Blacks, Native Americans, and Native Americans than any other group. It can begin in childhood or even adulthood.

Asthma symptoms include shortness of breathe, chest tightening and wheezing. These symptoms can be triggered by different things for different people.

What causes asthma?

Asthma can have many causes.

According to the American Lung Association and the AAFA the major causes of asthma are:

Family history of asthma

You can find out about the causes of asthma and how to prevent it.


Allergies to certain substances can lead to allergic asthma. According to the AAFA, some of the most common causes include:


In allergy-induced asthma, the immune system produces a type of antibody known as immunoglobulin E. According to Dr. Ronald Purcell of the Cleveland Clinic, this immune reaction can cause wheezing as well as sneezing or shortness in breath.

In a recent Cleveland Clinic piece, he said: 'The goal of managing your condition is to never limit the activities that you enjoy.'

Purcell suggested that you get an allergy test in order to determine your triggers. He also recommended changing your clothes and taking a shower after being outside, as well as using a HEPA air filter at home to reduce allergens.


The ALA explains obese people are at a greater risk of developing asthma compared to people with normal weight. This is because obesity can cause inflammation, which can limit lung function.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with a BMI of 30 or higher are more susceptible to obesity-related asthma. It's less responsive to medication than other forms of asthma. Try walking or other forms of exercise to reduce symptoms.


Smoke can cause asthma because it causes inflammation, irritation, and the accumulation of mucus. According to the ALA, cigarette smoke can even damage lung tissue. Sadly, 18% adults in the United States with asthma smoke compared to only 13.6% adults without asthma.

Although quitting smoking is a difficult task, there are resources such as the Lung HelpLine (r) and Freedom from Smoking program that can help you kick the habit.

Air pollutants

In a recent Cleveland Clinic report, Dr. Neha Solanki, pulmonologist and author of the article said: "Chronic pollution exposure is insidious. People don't realize how these pollutants affect their health over time."

According to AAFA, air pollution such as dust, ozone, and gases can enter your lungs, causing an interruption in normal lung function, which makes it hard to breathe. Asthma can be caused by secondhand smoke, household cleaners, pesticides, and air fresheners.

It's important to choose products that won't cause an asthma attack when it comes to indoor air pollutants.

Health Conditions

According to the AAFA:

Allergic bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis

Family History

In a recent Cleveland Clinic piece, allergist Lily Pien stated that genetics could predispose certain people to allergies.

According to the ALA, those with at least one parent who has asthma are up to six times as likely to develop it than those without parents who suffer from the condition.

A recent cross-sectional study of nearly 60,000 Chinese schoolchildren published in Frontiers in Pediatrics found that the presence of grandparents with the disease increased the risk for children to develop the condition.

The ALA and AAFA both offer self-paced, free asthma care basics classes.