One of the most common questions regarding asthma is perhaps, “How contagious is it?” While individuals who live with asthma typically know where it comes from, other people might not. Let’s talk about whether or not asthma is a communicable disease, as well as common causes of lung disease.
Is Asthma Contagious?
Fortunately, the answer to this question is a definite “no.” You cannot catch asthma from someone who has it the way you can catch a virus or common cold. Asthma (as well as other chronic lung diseases) begins internally, most often exhibiting itself in childhood.
Although asthma is not a communicable disease, it is important to note that it can be hereditary. That is, asthma can be passed down from generation to generation. Of course, it isn’t exactly the family heirloom everyone wants to inherit, but it does make it important to know your family’s health history.
If It’s Not a Communicable Disease, What Causes It?
Studies are still being conducted on the exact cause of asthma. However, answers may lie in its definition. Simply put, asthma is caused by inflamed airways that make the lungs’ bronchi constrict and spasm, reducing oxygen intake. As already mentioned, many individuals with asthma either gained it through their gene pool or their lungs simply weaken over time. Unfortunately, many things can trigger this reaction by inflaming the airways.
Regarding childhood asthma, triggers typically consist of one or more of the following.
- Physical exertion or exercise
- Anxiety or stress resulting in hyperventilation
- Common allergens such as pet hair, pollen, dust, etc.
- Poor indoor air quality
- Regular exposure to harsh chemicals and fumes
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
Even if you are an adult who has never exhibited asthma symptoms, it is still possible to develop it. Adult-onset asthma usually occurs for one of the following reasons.
- Frequent exposure to allergens or air pollution within the workplace
- Chronic smoking or vaping
- Exposure to non-tobacco smoke or harsh fumes at work
- Frequent drinking of alcohol
- Severe anxiety or depression
Can You Avoid Getting Asthma?
Since asthma is not a communicable disease, you cannot avoid getting it. Additionally, there is no known cure for asthma or for other chronic lung diseases. However, even if you or a loved one develops asthma, you can take steps to control and maintain it. Asthma maintenance is the first step toward a happy, healthy lifestyle.
To gain control of your health and empower yourself, implement the following tips into your lifestyle.
1. Make a habit of tracking and avoiding triggers.
The best way to prioritize your lung health is to know what compromises it. Take note of where your triggers might be most common. For instance, if air pollution brings on flare-ups, check the air quality each morning before you leave home.
2. Monitor your symptoms in correlation with your activities.
If you aren’t entirely sure of your triggers, monitor your symptoms instead. Then, consider what you were doing or what you were surrounded by when the symptom showed up. Were you exercising? Were you feeling anxious about something? Keep a detailed list in order to narrow your triggers down.
3. Communicate with your doctor regularly.
Communication plays an important role in lung health. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor about flare-ups, new symptoms or triggers, etc. Make sure you alert your doctor of any changes in your breath control.
4. Take at-home tests to monitor your lung health.
Portable spirometers are an excellent tool for measuring lung capacity and monitoring your overall health.
5. Develop an asthma attack action plan.
With your doctor’s help, create a plan that details what to do, where to go, and what medication to take in the event of an asthma attack.