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Asthma symptoms include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.

Asthma symptoms include a cough, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.
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What causes asthma?

Factors that are known to increase the likelihood of developing asthma include:

  • a family history of asthma or other related allergic conditions (known as 'atopic conditions'), such as eczema, food allergy or hay fever
  • developing another atopic condition
  • being exposed to tobacco smoke as a child, particularly if your mother smoked during pregnancy
  • being born prematurely (especially if you needed a ventilator)
  • being born with a low birth weight (less than 2kg).

The symptoms of asthma can have a range of triggers:

  • infections of the airways and chest
  • allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, animal fur or feathers
  • airborne irritants, such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes and pollution
  • some painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • emotional factors, such as stress or laughing
  • foods containing sulphites, such as concentrated fruit juice, jam, prawns and many processed or pre-cooked meals
  • weather conditions, such as sudden change in temperature, cold air, windy days, poor air quality and hot, humid days
  • indoor  conditions, such as mould or damp, house dust mites and chemicals in carpets and flooring materials
  • exercise.

Last reviewed: July 2016

Need more information?

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Thunderstorm asthma is a potentially dangerous mix of pollens, weather conditions and rain that can trigger severe asthma symptoms. People residing in metropolitan, regional and rural areas of Australia can be affected.

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Allergy plays an important role in asthma, as one of the major factors associated with the cause and persistence of asthma. Around 8 in 10 people with asthma have positive allergy test results.

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Pollen triggers my asthma and allergies - National Asthma Council Australia

Many people are allergic to windborne pollen from grasses, weeds and trees. This pollen can blow into your nose and eyes, triggering asthma and allergies.Hi

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Living with Asthma - National Asthma Council Australia

We are a not-for-profit charity and the national authority for asthma knowledge, setting the standard for asthma care.

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Information and tools to support good asthma management

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Pollen allergy - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Pollen from grasses, weeds or trees can trigger symptoms of hayfever and asthma. Pollen seasons can last for several months and exposure is difficult to avoid.

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ASCIA patient information - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

ASCIA information for patients, consumers and carers

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