Have you ever wondered why some people end up with asthma while others don't? Could it be chance or is it something more? Scientists have been puzzling over that question in recent years.

The Asthma Epidemic

With asthma rates increasing in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, many people are experiencing serious symptoms and the medical community has been hard-pressed to find some answers to explain this disturbing trend. A number of theories do exist but none have been completely proven yet.

What the experts do know is that there's a genetic component that explains why asthma tends to run in families. They also believe that certain environmental factors can play a strong role in triggering the condition in people who are prone to it. This can include such things as living in an economically challenged urban neighborhood, being exposed to air pollution, breathing in second-hand smoke and chemicals, and having a predisposition for allergies.

10 Steps to Gain Asthma Control

While you can't change your genetic makeup, and you may not want to move any time soon, there are still things you can do to ensure good respiratory health and prevent yourself from becoming a statistic. Here are some key steps you can take to minimize some of your own personal risk factors and gain better asthma control overall:

  1. Pay attention to what triggers your asthma so you can identify patterns.
  2. Clean your house thoroughly on a regular basis to eliminate dust mites, mold, pet dander, cockroaches, and other asthma triggers.
  3. Use your asthma control medications as directed to help manage your condition. Corticosteroids can be essential. Make sure to also keep your fast-acting relief inhaler handy, just in case you do have a flare-up.
  4. Steer clear of second-hand smoke, and don't smoke yourself.
  5. Take good care of yourself by eating a balanced diet and getting plenty of sleep.
  6. Avoid sick people and crowded places where you'll be exposed to lots of germs.
  7. Get a flu shot every year to avoid becoming ill.
  8. Learn how to identify your early asthma symptoms, so you'll know when you need to increase your medications.
  9. Work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive asthma action plan that includes steps you should take in an emergency, such as using your inhaler and calling 911.
  10. Schedule regular checkups, not only when you're feeling sick but also when you're well. This will allow your doctor to tweak your treatment plan as needed.

The Need for Widespread Asthma Management

On a broader scale, when it comes to asthma management, it's also important to support public policy initiatives that are geared to ensure that clean air exists in schools, workplaces, and public locations. You'll also want to stay on top of the latest asthma research efforts, since scientists are continually striving to better understand this chronic condition and develop new and improved forms of prevention and treatment to get the growing asthma problem under control.




"Living with Asthma." US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1 Feb. 2011. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.

Ostrom, Carol. "Asthma is on the Rise but Remains a Mystery." Seattle Times. Seattle Times Online, 5 Jan. 2005. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.

"U.S. Asthma Rates Continue to Rise: CDC and Partners Reinforce World Asthma Day's Message Take Control of Your Asthma." US Centers for Disease Control. CDC, 3 May 2011. Web. 13 Dec. 2011.