Washing your hands doesn’t simply kill germs — it also decreases a key asthma trigger. / Mogens Skou/Getty Images
Asthma can first appear any time — even later in life. Experts don’t know why some adults develop asthma, but they suspect heredity and environmental factors. Obesity may raise the risk of adult-onset asthma as well.
Here are other triggers, with tips to help protect yourself:
Trigger: Respiratory infections
Scientists found an increased risk of asthma in people ages 21 to 63 who had been diagnosed with lower respiratory tract infections.
Tip: Wash your hands often. This is one of the simplest ways to kill the germs that get you sick. Also, talk to your doctor about getting an annual flu shot.
Pollen, dust and dander can set off symptoms. At least 30% of adult cases are caused by allergies. When your immune system mistakes a harmless allergen for a dangerous invader, it releases chemicals to attack it. For some people, this reaction also affects the lungs and airways.
Tip: Consider immunotherapy. Allergy shots gradually reduce your immune system reaction to specific allergens, which in turn decreases asthma symptoms.
Trigger: Your job
If you wheeze at work, you may have occupational asthma, caused by inhaling potentially harmful job-related substances. Experts believe up to 15% of all asthma cases in the USA may be linked to working conditions.
Tip: Avoid irritants. A doctor can help determine what on your job site may be causing your symptoms: If it’s a specific irritant, talk to your employer about minimizing exposure.