An Overview Of Asthma Risk Factors

Asthma may happen to anybody, but it is less likely to occur if no risk factors exist. Asthma symptoms may be managed by avoiding as many risk factors as possible. 

While you can’t alter your family history or gender, you can avoid smoking, inhaling polluted air, encountering allergens, and other risk factors. You can also take care of your overall health to maintain your ideal weight.

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Risk factors of asthma

Here are the risk factors that can trigger an asthma attack.

Family history

An asthmatic or allergic parent increases a child’s asthma risk. However, the strength of this link may vary by when asthma first appears in childhood (early vs. late onset asthma).

The likelihood that early environmental exposure, such as a mother’s smoking during pregnancy, would cause childhood-onset asthma and continue into adolescence may depend on the family history of asthma and allergies in the child’s parents.


Many people have both allergies and asthma at the same time. Asthma may be diagnosed based on your level of indoor allergens. Research¹ showed that endotoxin levels in home dust were directly linked to asthma symptoms.

Asthma risk increases if a person has allergies, such as hay fever, rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, or hypersensitivity to dust mites.

Dust mites, animal proteins, fungus, cockroaches, dog and cat allergies, and mold are additional sources of indoor allergens. As households strive to become more energy-efficient, there is some speculation that improvements in appliances, flooring options, and heating and cooling systems have decreased instances of asthma triggers.


To effectively educate and counsel asthmatics throughout their lifespan, it is crucial to have a firm grasp of the gender distinctions in the condition.

With childhood asthma, for example, boys are more likely than girls to suffer from it. However, after that point, women tend to suffer from asthma more overall.

Women are more likely than men to suffer from severe asthma because of the condition’s prevalence. Gender variations in environmental exposures and hormonal changes may explain this shift in the risk of developing asthma during puberty.


There is a direct correlation² between cigarette smoke and irritation of the airways. Asthma attacks are more common among those who smoke.

Cigarette and pipe smoke are dangerous to your health but mainly target your respiratory system. Asthmatic airways are very reactive and may be triggered by various stimuli.

Smoking is connected³ with lower long-term lung function and asthma-related mortality in the long term. In light of current understanding, patients with asthma are urged not to smoke. 


The rising trend of childhood obesity and asthma has climbed rapidly over the last several decades, making them two of the most severe health issues facing children today. 

Since 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention⁴ has recognized childhood obesity as a significant risk factor for asthma. Being overweight may increase the risk of having asthma that is out of control and necessitates treatment.

Asthma is more common in overweight and obese children and adults. Even though the reasons for this phenomenon remain unknown, some doctors believe that weight gain causes low-grade inflammation in the body. 

Patients with asthma who are overweight or obese need more drugs, have more severe symptoms, and have less control over their condition than those in a healthy weight range.


Atopy⁵ is a term used to describe a person’s predisposition to develop allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, eczema, and asthma. As a result of atopy, people are more sensitive to everyday allergens, including those found in food and the environment.

Environmental factors

Several conditions, including air pollution, cold temperatures, and smog components, may lead to an asthma attack. For urban dwellers, asthma is a more severe problem.

Allergies and asthma may be triggered by mold and damp work and living spaces. In those prone to asthma attacks, substances including sulfur dioxide,⁶ ozone, and nitrogen oxide⁷ are asthma triggers.

Asthma symptoms and hospitalizations rise significantly during times of high air pollution. Coughing, shortness of breath, and even soreness in the chest are only some symptoms that might result, but the danger of infection is also increased. 

Changes in the weather may also trigger asthma episodes. Asthma symptoms are more likely to occur during exercise in cold, dry air than in warm, humid air. In some instances, breathing difficulties may be exacerbated by increased humidity.

Allergies and asthma are influenced by the ever-changing processes of the weather and environment. Pollutants in the air, such as those produced by the combustion of fossil fuels and vehicle emissions, may compromise the respiratory system. They amplify the effects of some allergens on those already prone to asthma. 

Cleaner air directly results from less pollution, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. To safeguard vulnerable patients, allergists should take a comprehensive and proactive strategy to address weather pattern shifts.


According to research,⁸ infants whose mothers smoked during pregnancy tend to have weaker lung function than those whose mothers don’t smoke. Asthma may also occur in children who are born prematurely.

Classification of asthma

According to the degree and frequency of the symptoms, asthma may be divided into four types: mild intermittent asthma, mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, and severe persistent asthma. 

The symptoms and risk factors for each of the following conditions are described below:

Mild intermittent asthma 

Those who have mild intermittent asthma have instances of asthma attacks fewer than once a week. Two days and two nights a month is the maximum number of days and nights one may have moderate asthma symptoms.

Inflamed airways, whistling when breathing, and mucus in the airways are just a few examples of the symptoms that may accompany this type of asthma.

This type of asthma is caused by environmental pollution, workplace toxins, obesity, exercise, a family history of asthma, smoking, and allergies.

Mild persistent asthma

In the case of mild persistent asthma, individuals experience symptoms more than twice a week but not daily. In addition, symptoms present themselves at night more than twice a month.

Mild persistent asthma has the same risk factors as the first type.

Moderate persistent asthma

Moderate persistent asthma is characterized by symptoms that occur daily and cause nighttime awakenings more than once a week, but not nightly. Given the frequency of symptoms, this type can cause some limitations to a person’s lifestyle.

Severe persistent asthma 

Symptoms of severe persistent asthma occur throughout the day every day and often every night. Patients with this condition usually do not react to treatment and find their lifestyles severely impacted.

Wheezing, coughing, enlarged airways with mucus build-up, discomfort, and chest tightness are all signs of this type of asthma. The risk factors are much the same as for the preceding categories.

Severe persistent asthma affects people of all ages. That’s because, if left untreated, any of the types mentioned above of mild to moderate asthma may develop into severe-type asthma. However, this type of asthma is rare compared to the other types.

Treatment of asthma

Asthma can’t be cured with a particular medication. As a result, it is critical to keep it under control to prevent severe asthma episodes. See a doctor if you see any of the symptoms mentioned above. 

Efforts should be made to alleviate the symptoms of this condition. If you see an increase in the frequency of your asthma episodes, talk to your doctor about revising your treatment strategy.

It is possible to control asthma symptoms by taking the prescribed medications, continuing your daily activities, and avoiding asthma attacks. Treatment methods might vary depending on your age, degree of illness, and reaction to a particular treatment choice until all symptoms and the condition are under control.

Asthma may be controlled with various medication options prescribed by your doctor. An inhaler, an anti-inflammatory steroid, and additional anti-adrenergic are all included in this treatment plan.

The lowdown

Because there is no cure for asthma, the only option is to manage it. People’s quality of life will improve, and their health will be protected if they and the rest of society are aware of asthma’s causes and risk factors. 

Even though asthma is a long-term condition, an asthma management program may help you manage your symptoms and lead a healthy life. Create an asthma treatment plan with your doctor and take charge of your or your child’s asthma.

  1. House dust endotoxin levels are associated with adult asthma in a U.S. farming population (2017)

  2. Smoking and asthma: Dangerous liaisons (2013)

  3. Asthma progression and mortality: The role of inhaled corticosteroids (2013)

  4. Risk factors | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  5. Atopy (2022)

  6. Short-term exposure to ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide and emergency department visits and hospital admissions due to asthma: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2021)

  7. The respiratory health effects of nitrogen dioxide in children with asthma (2010)

  8. Smoking during pregnancy | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Other sources:

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