Does asthma run in the family?

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Asthma can be genetic, though not all cases of asthma are inherited. Asthma has a range of other causes and risk factors.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation in the airways. This inflammation causes the airways to swell and become very sensitive. It can lead to wheezing and chest tightness.

Asthma affects people of all ages and genders. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), 8.3 percent of people in the United States have asthma. However, some people may be more likely to develop asthma than others.

In this article, we look at whether different types of asthma have genetic links, other causes and risk factors of asthma, and treatments.

Are different types of asthma genetic?

All types of asthma can have a genetic component. Some different types of asthma include:

  • adult-onset asthma
  • exercise-induced bronchospasm
  • allergic asthma
  • nonallergic asthma
  • occupational asthma
  • asthma with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

A person is more likely to develop asthma if they have a family history of the condition. This means that asthma can be genetic. Some researchers describe it as a “highly heritable disease.”

According to a 2014 review study, genetic factors account for around 70 percent of a person’s risk of developing asthma, meaning that genes play a large role in whether or not a person develops the condition.

However, genetics are not the only cause of asthma. Some people develop it when they have no family history of the condition. Likewise, a person may have a genetic tendency toward asthma but never actually develop it.

Genetics play less of a role in asthma development later in life, so adult-onset asthma and occupational asthma are slightly less dependent on genes.

A person can also develop asthma without any genetic predisposition for the condition. In fact, many environmental factors can cause a person to develop it.

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