The 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.
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 is capable of causing swelling and airway constriction and production of mucus, 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.
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:
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations sets Workplace Exposure Limits for exposure to asthmagens to protect employees.
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:
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: