What Causes Asthma?

No one knows exactly what causes asthma.  What we do know is:

  • Anyone can develop asthma.  It is very common in Ireland, where over 470,000 (1 in 8) adults and children have asthma.
  • It can start at any time of life, although it most often begins in childhood.
  • Sometimes it affects several family members e.g. if you have parents or brothers and sisters with asthma or allergy (e.g. Eczema or hay fever) you are more likely to have it yourself.
  • Conditions like hay-fever, eczema, or hives, which are usually the result of allergy, may occur along with Asthma.
  • Adult onset asthma may develop after a respiratory tract infection.
  • Many aspects of modern lifestyles such as changes in housing, diet and a more sterile home environment may have contributed to the rise in asthma over the last few decades.

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The following tests may be performed by your doctor to confirm the correct diagnosis.

  1. Spirometry is a simple breathing test that gives measurements of lung function including a reversibility test that measures lung function before and after a dose of reliever to see if it has improved your lung function. This can be helpful with asthma diagnosis.
  2. Peak Expiratory flow rate measurements (PEFR); another simple breathing test which may be measured over a period of time, when one has symptoms or even when symptom free, performed in a GP surgery, hospital and even at home.
  3. An exercise test to check if exercise worsens your symptoms.