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Asthma Risk Factors

There are usually reasons or risk factors that predispose you to asthma and respiratory problems. Asthma can happen to anyone without any risk factors, but it is less likely if there are no risk factors present.

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.

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Gender and Asthma

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.

Atopy and Asthma

Atopy refers to an allergic hypersensitivity that affects different parts of the body that do not come in contact with allergens, substances that trigger the body's allergic reaction. Atopy can include eczema (atopic dermatitis), allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, and 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.

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