How do I know if I am at risk for asthma?

Asthma affects people of all ethnic groups, male and female, young and old, city dwellers and rural dwellers. However, low-income and minority people and young children are most likely to suffer. People who live in cities have higher rates of asthma. Asthma tends to run in families. People with a parent or sibling with asthma are more likely to develop asthma themselves.

Infants and young children are most likely to get asthma and not outgrow it if they have allergies. But researchers have found that the younger a patient is at the time of diagnosis and the less severe the disease, the better the patient's prospects for eventual loss of asthma symptoms.

Asthma starts most often in children and teens, but adults also get asthma later in life. Poor living conditions, lack of information, poor access to health care, and failure to take medicine all increase risk of serious asthma attack. Doctors believe lack of exercise may also be a factor.

People who get asthma as adults are less likely to have a family history of allergy and asthma. For some adults, mild allergies get worse and become triggers. For others, years of sinus trouble can cause asthma. Breathing chemicals at work can also cause asthma in adults. Sometimes a person who reacts to a chemical may still have asthma even after he or she has stopped working with the chemical. Researchers have not yet learned why.

To learn more:

Asthma Frequent Questions
(Environmental Protection Agency)
Learn more about who is at risk for asthma.
Nationwide Asthma Screening Program
(Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Online)
At this site, you can learn about nationwide asthma screening. There are also on-line tests for different age groups.

next » Can you prevent asthma?

Written by: Lillian Trettin, Ph.D.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Sunday November 03, 2019 6:15 PM