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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?

2-minute read

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
  • having bronchiolitis (a lung infection) as a child
  • being born prematurely (especially if you needed a ventilator)
  • being born with a low birth weight (less than 2kg)
  • being exposed to indoor and outdoor pollution (including moulds, gases, chemicals, particles and cigarette smoke)

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
  • exposure to some chemicals at work
  • exercise, especially while breathing air that is polluted, cold or dry

Last reviewed: June 2018

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