A woman suffering from an asthma attack is reaching for the asthma pump. A woman suffering from an asthma attack is reaching for the asthma pump.

Is Asthma Genetic? 10 Important Points to Remember!

Knowingly or unknowingly, we all perform an involuntary activity that keeps us alive. This is called breathing. But what if suddenly breathing becomes difficult or there occurs shortness of breath?

One of the reasons why this could happen is a condition which is known as asthma.

In medical terminology, asthma is an ailment in which the airways of the respiratory system narrow down and bulge, ultimately producing excess mucus.

This condition may make the breathing process difficult and can also initiate coughing or a wheezing sound while breathing out, and also cause shortness of breath.

Some people think that asthma is a nominal nuisance but it can be a major concern because it impedes day-to-day activities and can lead to a lethal attack of asthma.

The symptoms of asthma may be different in different people. Some of the symptoms are as follows:

  • Shortness of breathing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty in sleeping.

Asthma is also known as bronchial asthma. It is a chronic disease.

Though asthma cannot be cured, the symptoms can be lessened with the help of medication and treatments.

So, let us know if asthma is genetic in the following article.

Is Asthma Genetic? 10 Crucial Points to Know

1. How Does an Asthma Attack Occur?

Generally, when we are breathing, the muscles are relaxed around the airways and the air moves smoothly.

But during an asthma attack following happens:

  • The muscles of the airways contract or tighten which makes the air passage narrow. It is called bronchospasm. Because of this, the free flow of air is constricted.

  • The muscle linings of the air passage get swollen, the inflammation occurs which does not permit easy breathing.

  • The excessive mucus production blocks the air passage.

An asthma attack is called a flare-up or exacerbation because it cannot be controlled. Only its symptoms can be reduced but it doesn’t fade away from a victim’s life.

Colored vector art of lungs.
By Clker-Free-Vector-Images/pixabay/Copyright 2023

2. Gender and Asthma

Gender discrepancy does exist in asthma prevalence.

It is a heterogeneous ailment and its preponderance and stringency are different in both genders through varied ages.

As juveniles, boys have a greater prevalence of asthma development whereas adult women have more severity of developing asthma.

For females, the hormonal changes during adolescence, gestation, and the menstrual cycle are associated with the pathogenesis of asthma.

Throughout their lifetime, women are more likely to develop asthma and the severity is higher as compared to men.

These gender differences in the likelihood of developing asthma are caused by the impacts of sex hormones on the lung cells.

An illustration of a kid inhaling from the pump.
By OpenClipart-Vectors/ pixabay/ Copyright 2023

3. Family History of Asthma

A person is most likely to be impacted by asthma if a close family member has it like their mother, father, or siblings. Thus, asthma may be spread out more in families.

Some of the introspections have shown that there is a stronger chance of asthma associated with the maternal family history as compared to the paternal family history.

Therefore, there is a slightly greater chance of it being transferred to a child by a mother than by a father.

Though asthma is linked to family history, it is not necessary that an individual would certainly develop this disease just because their family has it.

Apart from genetics, asthma can attack a person due to several other factors.

4. Atopy and Asthma

Atopy is a difficulty with the immune system of the body which makes an individual more prone to allergic diseases. Probably genes cause this problem.

A person with atopy has an immune system more exposed to the common allergens that can be eaten and breathed in.

Asthma is caused by atopy as allergens can stimulate asthma attacks.

It is confirmed that a personal or family history of atopic diseases is a prominent risk factor for the occurrence of asthma.

Early sensitization to aeroallergens increases the risk of the development of asthma.

5. Allergies Linked to Asthma

Asthma and allergy have something in common. They often emerge together.

Some aspects such as dust, animal allergens, pollen, etc. can trigger hay fever (also called allergic rhinitis) and they might cause signs and symptoms of asthma.

In some individuals, even food or skin allergies may cause asthma symptoms. This is also known as allergy-induced asthma or allergic asthma.

It is crucial to know that family history is a considerable factor for allergy-induced asthma.

Allergic asthma is very commonly witnessed in both grown-ups and minors. This is the most common type of asthma.

In the US, about 25 million of the population is suffering from asthma. Out of this heterogeneous group, about 60% of the population has allergic asthma.

6. Environmental Factors and Their Relation to Asthma

In a physical environment, certain environmental factors contribute to boosting asthma symptoms and can worsen them.

Air pollution is one of the significant factors in the environment which can exacerbate asthma.

Air pollution is a mixture or combination of several pollutants.

It consists of chemical and biological elements, particulate matter present in the environment, and harmful gases like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide(SO2), carbon monoxide(CO), and black carbon(CO).

Especially in children, the symptoms of asthma increase with exposure to higher concentrations of harmful gases such as NO2, SO2, etc.

The pollution from vehicles and factory-released pollutants has caused most of the readmissions in hospitals.

7. Smoking Is an Asthma Risk Factor 

An inhaler and a cigarette.
By Ralph/ pixabay/ Copyright 2023

Smoking is harmful to the body in many ways, particularly because it damages the respiratory system.

The air passage of the respiratory system of an asthma patient is very sensitive so it responds to several foreign elements or stimuli.

Smoking is a potent asthma stimulus. Inhaling tobacco smoke can adhere to the moist inner linings of the air passage and can trigger asthma bouts.

The combination of burning cigarette smoke and exhaled smoke by the smoker is called second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke makes children more susceptible to acquiring symptoms of asthma. This is most likely to affect their lungs and also develop sinus infections.

It is observed that obesity certainly impacts chronic disease prevalence. Thus, it is also a significant factor in asthma.

The greater the BMI (Body mass index), the greater the chance of developing asthma. 

Fat tissues in an obese person produce inflammatory substances that can affect the lungs and cause asthma.

Especially in adult women, the prevalence of developing asthma has risen in obesity. Among 100% of the adult population having asthma, almost 60% are obese.

9. Genetics of Asthma

In some victims, asthma symptoms occur in early life or early childhood. This is because of the genetic predisposition or genetics of asthma. 

Asthma is a chronic disease, characterized by inflammation in the air passage, caused by various factors among them and one of these factors is genetics.

Almost all the population with asthma has a genetic vulnerability. There is a potent genetic basis for the risk of asthma.

Individuals having a family history and genetics of asthma are likely to have an early-onset asthma disease.

Genetics is a major factor in developing asthma.

10. Genes Involved in Asthma

The genes that are involved in asthma are as follows:

  • ORMDL3- the gene responsible for high IgE by early onset of asthma

  • ADAM33- the gene responsible for hyperresponsiveness of airways and reduced lung function

  • Filaggrin- the gene responsible for maintaining mutations and skin barriers.

And many more like SMAD3, VDR, DPP10, PHF11, HLA-G, IL33, etc. 

These genes are responsible for asthma by affecting immunity, lung function, and inflammatory response.

Conclusion

Asthma can be genetic, depending on the family history.

Is Asthma Genetic?

Chronic asthma is a convoluted multifactorial disease that has several causes, among which genetic cause is most liable.

Carrying a family history of this disease increases the risk of developing asthmatic symptoms.

There are various asthma phenotypes and most of them have higher risk factors for health.

Though genetic and environmental factors both are responsible for respiratory problems like asthma, it is because of asthmatic genes and genetic predisposition that most of its cases occur.

It has other causes too, such as smoke, pollution, stress, etc.

Therefore, it is advised to take precautions and take measures accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does asthma run in families?

If the parents have asthma then their child is more likely to develop asthma than children whose parents do not have it. 

2. What age does asthma start?

Asthma can begin at any age. However, if the family history has asthma present then it is possible that the child of that parent may start developing asthma at an early age.

3. Can asthma go away?

No. However, asthma can go into remission when the symptoms of the disease are no longer visible or felt but the underlying disease is still there.

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Author

Sakshi Dhande

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