What are the risk factors for asthma?

Although there is a genetic component to having asthma, there are a number of environmental factors that can contribute to your risk. The most common risk is exposure to indoor allergens such as pet dander and dust mites. Other risks include being around cigarette smoke and air pollution. Some people with asthma may find that attacks can be triggered by aspirin or certain food colorings and preservatives. The temperature and humidity of indoor and outdoor air is another factor. Outdoor activity during cold weather can trigger an asthma attack, as can high indoor humidity.

People who have allergies and respiratory infections are also at increased risk for asthma. Additionally, some people may develop asthma if they are exposed to certain chemicals while at work.
Asthma is hereditary: If parents have asthma, their children are more likely to suffer from asthma. In this video, I will explain how things like exposure to second-hand smoke and some viral illnesses may make kids more prone to wheezing.
UCLA Health
Administration
Many infants and toddlers experience occasional episodes of wheezing caused by respiratory tract infections, but that doesn’t mean they suffer from asthma, a chronic disorder that causes swelling and inflammation of the airways.

Risk factors, including a family history of parental or sibling asthma, eczema and food allergies, can increase a child’s risk to develop asthma. About 60% of children with asthma will outgrow it by adulthood. However, only 5%-30% of children with severe asthma will outgrow their asthma by adulthood.

Here are some risk factors that make a person more likely to have asthma:

Gender:

  • Women are more likely to have asthma than men.
  • In children, boys are more likely to have asthma than girls.

Age:

  • Adults ages 18 to 24 are more likely to have asthma than older adults.

Race and ethnicity:

  • Multi-race and black adults are more likely to have asthma than white adults.
  • Black children are two times more likely to have asthma than white children.

Education level:

  • Adults who didn’t finish high school are more likely to have asthma than adults who graduated high school or college.

Income level:

  • Adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or less are more likely to have asthma than adults with higher incomes.

Behavioral risk factors:

  • Smokers are more likely to have asthma than nonsmokers.
  • Obese adults are most likely to have asthma.

(The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the U.S. government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.)

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Asthma is a complex disease in that can be caused by a mix of factors, including environment (like dust mites, house dander), lifestyle (where you live dictates toxin levels), and genetics (kids have at least a 25 percent of developing asthma if their parents have allergies).

But it's important to note that even if you have a genetic disposition for asthma, you can control the symptoms and the disabling effects that come from the chronic inflammation secondary to acute attacks.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.