There are usually reasons or risk factors that predispose you to asthma and respiratory problems. Asthma does not just happen randomly to anyone without asthma risk factors.
Let's look at some asthma risk factors and see how they increase the chance that a person will have the asthma symptoms of cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath associated with the disease. After determining your personal risk factors for asthma, decide on the ones you can control and try to make some lifestyle changes. Avoidance of the risk factors you can control is crucial in preventing asthma symptoms. While you cannot change your gender or family history, you can avoid smoking with asthma, breathing polluted air, allergens, and taking care of your general health so you don't become overweight. Take control of your asthma -- by controlling your asthma risk factors. By understanding all the risk factors, you may be able to prevent or control your asthma.
To diagnose asthma, your doctor will review your asthma symptoms, your medical and family history, and perform lung function tests (also called pulmonary function tests) for asthma. Your doctor will be interested in any breathing problems you might have had, as well as a family history of asthma or other lung conditions, allergies, or a skin disease called eczema. It is important that you describe your symptoms of asthma in detail (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness),...
Childhood asthma occurs more frequently in boys than in girls. It's unknown why this occurs although some experts find a young male's airway size is smaller when compared to the female's airway, which may contribute to increased risk of wheezing after a cold or other viral infection. Around age 20, the ratio of asthma between men and women is the same. At age 40, more females than males have adult asthma.
Family History of Asthma
Blame Mom or Dad or both for your asthma. Your inherited genetic makeup predisposes you to having asthma. In fact, it's thought that three-fifths of all asthma cases are hereditary. According to a CDC report, if a person has a parent with asthma, he or she is three to six times more likely to develop asthma than someone who does not have a parent with asthma.
Airway Hyperreactivity and Asthma
It appears that having airway hyperreactivity is another risk factor for asthma, although researchers are not sure why this is true. In asthma, the airways are hyperreactive and become inflamed when they meet such asthma triggers as allergens or cold air. Not all people with airway hyperreactivity develop asthma, but in those who do have it, the airway hyperreactivity appears to increase the risk of asthma.
Some children with eczema or atopic dermatitis develop asthma. Some findings indicate that children with atopic dermatitis may have more severe and persistent asthma as adults.
Allergies Linked to Asthma
Allergies and asthma often coexist. Indoor allergies are a predictor of who might be at risk for an asthma diagnosis. One nationwide study showed levels of bacterial toxins called endotoxins in house dust were directly related to asthma symptoms and use of asthma inhalers, bronchodilators, and other asthma drugs.
Sources of other indoor allergens include animal proteins (particularly cat and dog allergens), dust mites, cockroaches, fungi, and mold. Changes that have made houses more "energy-efficient" over the years are thought to increase exposure to these causes of asthma.