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Asthma Causes

Asthma CausesThe causes of asthma vary from food allergies to airborne pollen and atmospheric pollution. Asthma can affect anyone at any point in their life but is more prolific in children.

FAQ about Asthma Causes:

What causes asthma?
What causes occupational asthma?
What are the most common allergic triggers of asthma?
Why is asthma on the increase?
How can asthma be prevented?

 

What causes asthma?

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A typical cause for asthma and asthma attacks is the exposure to a trigger substance, usually by inhalation, which causes an inflammatory response. The body’s immune cells produce a cascade of chemicals, including histamine, which are capable of causing swelling and airway constriction and production of mucous, which causes further airway swelling. Not all asthma is allergic asthma, however. In children, the majority of cases (around 80 per cent) of asthma do have an allergic cause but allergic asthma is less common in adults, apart from occupational (workplace) asthma. These are all asthma causes which will interact with the lungs and cause an inflammatory response, and an asthma attack. Exposure to an allergen gives a specific immune response; involving immune molecules called Immunoglobulin E, and can also give rise to other conditions such as dermatitis or hay fever.

What causes occupational asthma?

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Occupational asthma refers to new cases of asthma in adults, caused by exposure to an allergen they encounter in the workplace setting.

The most common asthmagens are:

  • Welding fumes
  • Isocyanates - used in automotive repair, construction and manufacturing
  • Metal dusts
  • Ammonia
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Traffic Pollution
  • Wood dust
  • Cotton dust
  • Endotoxin - a toxin produced by bacteria that is generated in food processing
  • Enzymes


The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations sets Workplace Exposure Limits for exposure to asthmagens to protect employees.

What are the most common allergic triggers of asthma?

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The most common allergic triggers of asthma are:

Why is asthma on the increase?

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Up to 30 per cent of the UK population is said to suffer from an allergy, including asthma. Hay fever is the most common of the allergic conditions. The prevalence of all allergic conditions has increased over the last 25 years, not just in the UK but in many other countries. In Western Europe, the prevalence of asthma has more than doubled in ten years. This could be because of these key factors:

  • Better awareness and diagnosis of asthma.
  • Modern homes with double glazing, central heating, carpeting and insulation are poorly ventilated compared to homes in the past - which is often compared to living in a plastic bag. This kind of living allows for the accumulation of indoor air pollution, including an increased allergen burden.
  • Changes in diet which alter the amount of bacteria in the gut, making people increasingly prone to developing allergies.
  • A shift from rural to urban living, and overall increase in the exposure to urban pollution.

How can asthma be prevented?

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While there are several effective medications (preventers and relievers) for managing asthma, prevention of asthma by avoiding exposure to triggers plays a key role in living well with asthma, including allergic asthma.

You can, of course, do more about reducing indoor airborne allergens than outdoor sources of allergens. The most effective way to clean the air in your home is by using an effective air purifier. Here are some further tips:

House dust mite
It is specific proteins within house dust mite droppings that are the allergen, not the mites themselves. Tackle house dust mite by:

  • Regular vacuuming with a cleaner fitted with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter or even removing carpets and replacing with hard wood flooring. Carpets are a reservoir for house dust mite.
  • Washing bedding regularly at a high temperature to kill mites; use mite-proof covers for bedding and mattresses.
  • Damp dust regularly (a dry duster spreads dust around, increasing the mite problem). Remove clutter, because this attracts dust.


Pet dander

  • Ideally, do not have a pet but if getting rid of a beloved family member is a step too far, then ensure the animal is confined, as much as possible, to one room.
  • Shampoo the animal once a week to get rid of dander.


Mould

  • Get rid of obvious damp patches.
  • Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens after bathing, showering and cooking to prevent condensation & have a fan operating or open the windows.


Pollen

  • Try not to bring pollen indoors. Change shoes, clothes and wash hair and shower when coming in from outdoors.


Outdoors

  • Try to avoid exposure to outdoor pollution by keeping your eye on pollution forecasts and planning activities accordingly. Join/support an environmental group like Clean Air in London to put pressure on policy makers for better environmental legislation.


Further information:

Asthma UK Fact sheet - http://www.asthma.org.uk/news-centre/facts-for-journalists/

European Respiratory Society Task Force recommendations on workplace asthma - http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/39/3/529.abstract

Related Products:

Asthma Relief ProductsADS Dust SprayMiele S7580 HEPAIQAir HealthPro 250

Asthma Causes Explained | Asthma Causes FAQs Articles

Thunderstorm Asthma

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thunderstorm asthma Thunderstorm asthma is an increase in cases of asthma attacks whenever there is a thunderstorm in the area. Although thunderstorm asthma is relatively rare in the UK, it is important for people with asthma to understand it and know what to do to prevent or manage these episodes...

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Does Paracetamol Cause Asthma in Children?

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Paracetamol cause asthma It is concerning to learn of a link between paracetamol consumption and asthma and raises the question: does paracetamol cause asthma?

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Prevalence of Asthma is Linked to Growing Urbanisation

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Mould Exposure Can Trigger Asthma In Children

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Asthma in children affects around 10% of children in both the UK and the USA and is thought to arise from an interaction between a genetic disposition and environmental factors. A new report from the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study now points to exposure to household mould as being one of the key environmental factors in the development of childhood asthma. The researchers followed 176 children for seven years, after which time 18% had developed asthma. This was already known to be a high risk group, because of a family history of asthma. The level of mould in the home was measured when the children were aged one and aged seven.

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Can Stress Cause Asthma?

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Children with Asthma Gene Affected by Air Pollution

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asthma gene Researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, have come up with direct evidence that the asthma gene in children is affected by air pollution. The researchers studied a group of 181 children with and without asthma in the California cities of Fresno and Palo Alto.

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Will My Baby Have Asthma Too?

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will my baby have asthma If you have asthma, or an allergy, it’s highly likely that someone else in your family does too. It’s long been known that asthma runs in families and about half of this is due to genetic factors and the rest to having a shared environment. Ten years ago researchers on both sides of the Atlantic announced that they had sequenced the human genome. This opened the door to a revolution in medicine which could brighten the prospects of people with chronic diseases like asthma.

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Pollution in School Causes Asthma

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pollution in school causes asthma Children’s risk of asthma increases through a combination of being exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution at home as well as in kindergartens and schools.

The Keck School of Medicine at the University of California conducted a longitudinal study on respiratory health among children in 13 communities of Southern California. Researchers followed 2,497 children with no history of respiratory problems over three years.

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Traffic Causes Preventable Asthma in Children

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traffic causes preventable asthma in children Air pollution due to heavy traffic is believed to cause a significant portion of preventable asthma in children. Large amounts of the outdoor as well as indoor air pollution stems from cars, trucks, planes, ships and trains. In a recent study, traffic related air pollution is shown to cause 9% of all asthma in children in Long Beach California. The study published in the American Journal of Public Health was a collaboration between the University of Basel in Switzerland, the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain, and the Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center.

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