Asthma: The at Your Fingertips Guide 4th Edition by Mark Levy, Tricia Weller, Sean Hilton

By Mark Levy, Tricia Weller, Sean Hilton

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These allergens are things that you have breathed in and are usually wellknown substances. These substances include house dust mite, grass pollens and animal fur or hair, but there are many others. Particular allergens may trigger off a dramatic narrowing of the airways in someone with allergic asthma, causing wheezing, chest tightness and coughing. Other people with asthma respond to different triggers such as virus infections, fumes, air pollution, exercise, cold air and laughter. These triggers are not allergens.

G. g. g. g. animals (especially cats and dogs), house dust mite, birds, pollen • hormones regulating the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. Do asthma triggers cause asthma? Generally speaking asthma triggers do not cause asthma – they bring on asthma symptoms or attacks. Occupational triggers are perhaps the one type that can be thought of as actually causing 30 Asthma – the ‘at your fingertips’ guide asthma. The question on occupational triggers later on will give you more information about it. (See the question What is occupational asthma?

The UK has one of the highest levels of asthma in the world. In the developed world there is certainly much more asthma than in the developing world. How we acquire the asthma tendency is not fully understood, but there are some suggestions that changes in our body’s defence system (immune system) are partly responsible for this, because we are not exposed to infections early in life. This suggestion or theory is called the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ but it has not been proven conclusively. Another possible factor contributing to this theory is that family sizes are smaller, with fewer opportunities for common infections to be passed on to young babies from older brothers and sisters.

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