what causes asthma

What causes Asthma

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The main cause of asthma is yet to be approved, however, you are more likely to get asthma due to environmental or genetic. This blog tackles the causes of asthma, symptoms, types of asthma, risk factors, and complications of asthma.

What does asthma feel like?

Asthma feels like an inflammation of the bronchial tubes where you experience symptoms such as tightening of airways and airways filled with mucus.

Some asthma patients experience asthma symptoms daily while some don't. Symptoms occur depending on the severity of your asthma. People with mild symptoms may experience fewer asthma attacks than those with persistent symptoms.

The major signs of asthma include inflammation, irritated airways, and airway blockage. Air blockage is where your muscles tighten making it difficult for air to pass through the airways. 

Inflammation is when your bronchial tubes appear swollen and red. Irritated airways mean that your airways become narrow when you come into contact with asthma allergens.

Types of asthma

Types of asthma can be grouped according to causes of asthma, severity of the asthma symptoms, and age. Below are the various types of asthma.

  1. Persistent asthma. In this type of asthma, you experience moderate to severe symptoms that appear most of the time.
  2. Intermittent asthma. It's a type of asthma where asthma symptoms come and go only when exposed to asthma triggers.
  3. Occupational asthma. Occupation asthma occurs in people who work under asthma irritant environments. An example is industries producing chemical fumes.
  4. Exercise-induced asthma. It's a type of asthma where symptoms occur after you exercise. While exercising you are likely to breathe in drier air that may narrow your airways. 
  5. Asthma COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) It is a type of asthma where you have symptoms of asthma and COPD(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
  6. Pediatric asthma. Pediatric is a type of asthma that occurs in children under the age of 5. This type of asthma commonly occurs in toddlers and infants.
  7. Adult-onset asthma. Adult onset is a type of asthma that begins at the age of 18 
  8. Aspirin-induced asthma. You get asthma symptoms after taking asthma medications.
  9. Nocturnal asthma. It is a type of asthma that occurs at night. You get asthma symptoms at night.
  10. Cough Variant Asthma. It's a type of asthma whose common symptom is long-term coughing

Risk factors of asthma

Below are some of the factors that increase the risk of getting asthma. They include:

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke 
  • Allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis 
  • Exposure to allergens such as pollutants 
  • Occupational triggers such as chemical fumes
  •  Genetic factors

Complications of asthma

What are the complications of asthma?

Poorly controlled asthma can cause negative effects. If you feel asthma is causing negative effects in your life, consult your doctor for further check-ups. The complications brought by asthma include:

  1. Fatigue 
    Fatigue is caused by lack of sleep.
  2. Lack of enough energy to stay physically fit/exercise 
    Difficulty in breathing prevents asthma patients from participating in physical exercises. Lack of physical exercise may lead to risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
  3. Poor sleep
    Asthma symptoms mostly occur at night, causing sleep deprivation.
  4. Poor mental health
    People suffering from asthma are more likely to experience psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders can be a result of anxiety or depression.
  5. Poor functioning of the lungs 
    Exercises help in strengthening your lungs. Asthma patients experience poor functioning of the lungs due to lack of exercise.
  6. Unproductiveness at work or school
    Due to lack of enough sleep and anxiety, asthma patients may fail to be productive at work or school.

Complications of asthma in children vs adults.

Children suffering from asthma may experience growth delay while adults experience unproductiveness at work. Unproductive at work is caused by frequent days of sickness.

Children with asthma have a higher risk of learning disability. Adults have a higher risk of depression and anxiety.

Besides the complication differences, children and adults also experience common asthma complications. These complications include: coughing, narrowing of the bronchial tubes, high risk of obesity, and medicine side effects.

When to see a doctor.

Asthma symptoms can get worse and threaten your life.it's important to see a doctor if:

  • You experience pale lips or fingernails 
  • You suspect you have asthma. Avoid purchasing over-the-counter asthma medication without a prescription from your doctor. Treating your asthma symptoms earlier prevents future complications.
  • You need the doctor to review your treatment. Discussing your recent symptoms with your doctor helps the doctor make adjustments for your treatment.
  • You experience severe asthma flare-ups. You will be required to get another prescription from your doctor if asthma symptoms get worse 
  • You require emergency treatment. You may need emergency treatment if you experience worse shortness of breath or get no improvement when you use a quick-relief inhaler.
  • The skin around your ribs moves inwards after you breathe in 


Classifications of asthma severity
Asthma is classified according to the severity of the asthma symptoms. Below are classifications of asthma.

Mild persistent asthma 
In mild persistent asthma, you experience asthma symptoms 6 times a week and 4 times at night each month.

Moderate persistent asthma 
In moderate persistent asthma, symptoms attack at least 5 or more times in a month during the night. You may experience asthma symptoms daily during the day.

Severe persistent asthma 
In severe persistent asthma, symptoms occur day and night  often limiting your ability to work on daily tasks 

Mild intermittent asthma 
In mild intermittent asthma, you may experience asthma symptoms twice a week during the day and twice a month during the night 


Why do asthma complications occur?

Asthma complications occur due to exposure to pollens such as dust mites and smoke.

Asthma complications can caused by cold or acid reflux, stress, medications such as aspirin, and physical activities.

Always consult a doctor in case of asthma complications. The doctor can help you understand asthma triggers and how to manage them.

What can I do if I have asthma?

If you realize you have asthma you can use asthma treatments to control your symptoms. You can also participate in exercises that help in strengthening your lungs. Always consult with your doctor on the right exercises to begin with. Lastly, avoid asthma triggers, this helps in preventing asthma attacks.

What is the difference between asthma and Pneumonia?

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the airways. It affects the main bronchi and it's not curable though it can be managed. Pneumonia is a lung infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs. Pneumonia causes your lungs to fill with fluids, it's curable and treatable.

What is the connection between asthma and pneumonia?

People suffering from asthma are more likely to suffer from pneumonia.


Asthma has no cure but once you figure out its causes you are one step ahead of treating asthma. Understanding the type of asthma you are suffering from and the complications caused by the chronic condition is more important.

If suffering from asthma symptoms, visit Ashcroft Pharmacy for better treatments such as Ventolin (salbutamol) | Asthma Inhaler

Reviewed by 
Name Mr Suhail Jamil
Role Superintendent Pharmacist
GPhc number 2069518

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