What Causes Asthma? Asthma Symptoms and Treatment

Written By: Care New England on March 11, 2022

A person with asthma often experiences breathing difficulties from narrow swollen airways filled with mucus. Coughing and wheezing may accompany difficult breathing. The severity of the condition varies from person to person. Asthma is incurable. You can only manage its symptoms. Keeping track of the progress of the symptoms is the best bet you have when it comes to managing them.

What Causes Asthma?

Asthma is common in children, although people develop the condition later in life. Experts haven’t found a specific cause of asthma, although there have been a few suggestions. So what causes asthma?


You are likely to develop asthma if you have a family history of asthma. You can have a genetic makeup that predisposes you to have asthma. Atopy, a genetic tendency to develop asthma, heightens sensitivity to allergens.

Viral Infections

Exposure to viral infections such as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus causes damage to the lungs in young children. Such infections most often attack children under ten years old.

Hygiene Theory

The hypothesis under hygiene theory explains that babies who fail to get enough exposure to bacteria in the early months and years have weak immunity. It results in the systems failing to fight off bacteria and allergic reactions.

Other causes and triggers of asthma include:

  • Exercising
  • Medication such as beta-blockers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Cold air
  • Preservatives
  • Air pollutants
  • Pollen
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease

Asthma Symptoms and Treatments

Looking out for the signs you have that you are about to have an asthma attack should help you prepare adequately. When you understand your symptoms, you can help physicians draft a treatment plan for asthma.


Asthma symptoms often vary from person to person. Also, the symptoms may manifest at different times. Some of the most common asthma symptoms:

  • Tightness accompanied by pain in the chest
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing in children, especially when exhaling
  • Insomnia from breathlessness and coughing and wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing

Asthma varies in severity at times, and the condition may progress, which means that you can also note an increased aggressiveness of the symptoms. Look out for the following signs to indicate worsening asthma.

  • Frequently occurring signs and symptoms
  • Need to use the inhaler more frequently
  • Indication of increased breathlessness on the peak flow meter

The signs and symptoms of asthma may flare up when you perform certain activities such as exercising, especially when the air is cold and dry. Also, if you work around irritants like chemicals, fumes, or dust, there is the likelihood of your symptoms flaring.


Asthma treatment depends on its severity. There are four categories of treatments to that end. You can get one category of treatment or a combination of several in that category based on age, your triggers, and the type of asthma you have. It's therefore essential to learn and monitor your condition closely.

1. Quick Relief Medications

You use these medications when the symptoms get too aggressive or in the event of an attack. These medications ease your breathing. They include bronchodilators which take effect within minutes and first-aid asthma treatments.

2. Biologics

The biologics are applicable to severe types of asthma. There are five types of biologics whose administration is through injections or infusion.

3. Bronchial Thermoplasty

It involves using an electrode to heat inside the lungs to reduce muscle volume. The procedure is noninvasive and takes about an hour.

4. Long-Term Control Medications

You have to take these medications daily to lessen the aggression of your asthma and to lower the occurrence of symptoms. These medications take time to work. They include long-acting bronchodilators, anti-inflammatories, and anticholinergics.

It is possible to stay ahead of asthma symptoms by releasing your triggers. Partaking in medication ensures that you function without stopping to catch a breath. Learn more about asthma diagnosis and treatment options with the Care New England Pulmonary Medicine Team.

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