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Asthma Causes and Triggers

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Smoking and Asthma

People who smoke cigarettes are more likely to get asthma. If you smoke with asthma, it may make your symptoms such as coughing and wheezing worse. Women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of wheezing in their babies. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy also have worse lung function than those whose mothers did not smoke. If you have asthma and you're a smoker, quitting is the most important step you can take to protect your lungs.

For more detail, see WebMD's Smoking and Asthma.

Sinusitis and Other Upper Respiratory Infections

Much like asthma causes inflammation in the lining of the airways, sinusitis causes inflammation in the mucous membranes that line the sinuses. This inflammation causes the mucous membranes in the sinuses to secrete more mucus -- also similar to asthma. When the sinuses get inflamed, the airways respond similarly in many people with asthma, leading to sinusitis with asthma. Prevention and prompt treatment of a sinus infection is often necessary to help relieve asthma symptoms.

For more detail, see WebMD's Sinusitis and Asthma.

Infections and Asthma

Cold, flu, bronchitis, and sinus infections can cause an asthma attack. These respiratory infections that trigger asthma can be viral or bacterial and are a common cause of asthma especially in children under age 10. This airway sensitivity that causes the airways to more easily narrow can last as long as two months after an upper respiratory infection. It's thought that anywhere from 20% to 70% of asthmatic adults have coexisting sinus disease. Conversely, 15% to 56% of those with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or sinusitis have evidence of asthma.

For more detail, see WebMD's Infections and Asthma.

Medications and Asthma

Some people with asthma have aspirin-sensitive asthma and it's possible they're sensitive to other medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and beta-blockers (used to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, and glaucoma). If you know you're sensitive to these drugs, make sure your doctor has the problem documented on your chart, and always talk to your pharmacist about this reaction before taking a new medication.

For more detail, see WebMD's Aspirin and Other Medications That May Trigger Asthma.

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