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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Can smoking only a few years cause asthma?

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Question: can smoking for few years cause asthma?

My humble answer: This is a tricky question to answer. First, you must understand that both asthma and COPD are considered by most experts to be genetic disorders. In many cases, people diagnosed with COPD also have the asthma gene.

Many experts believe only people with the asthma gene will get asthma, and those who do develop asthma will have this happen in the first few months of life when our immune systems are developing. However, even while you had asthma your whole life, you may not show symptoms of this until you are exposed to something that triggers your asthma. In your case, this might just be your smoking in your adulthood.

So, if you have all the indicators of asthma, and/ or the family history, then your doctor may be wise to diagnose you with asthma and treat you as such. For one thing, this will save you a ton of money that would otherwise be spent on tests.

Likewise, you should know that there really is no one sure test to diagnose asthma. There are questions, assessments, and tests that can lean a doctor in that direction, but no one test that says, "He has asthma." Usually the diagnosis is based on the better judgement of the physician.

So, do you have asthma? Here's a definition: "It's a disease that causes airway obstruction and therefore difficulty breathing, coughing, chest tightness and wheezing. Yet, this can be reversed either with time or bronchodilators." In other words, asthma is a reversible obstructive airway disease.

Here's some links you can check out for more information:

1. Diagnosing asthma
2. Hygeine Hypothesis

If you have any further questions email me, or Visit's" Q&A section.


Linda said...

I am currently in school to become an RT. It seems like COPD is usually linked to long term smokers. I do actually know a young woman who has never smoked a cigarrette in her life and has COPD. I found this to be just crazy! lol
So in your history of therapy do the COPD'ers you see mostly smokers?

Rick Frea said...

I would say over 90% smoked, although some are asthmatic non smokers, and some have occupational asthma, which means that they were exposed to some kind of chemical that caused COPD.