Occupational asthma

29 January 2016
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29 January 2016, Comments: 0

Occupational asthma is triggered or aggravated by exposure to certain substances in the workplace. Always bear in mind that these substances might trigger asthma in various ways – irritant reaction, allergic reaction or a reaction where chemicals that naturally occur in the body accumulates in the lungs.

Individuals who work in the healthcare field can end up with an allergy to latex gloves by inhaling the powdered proteins from the interior lining of the gloves. As for those who work in the chemical industry, they are exposed to various substances such as ammonia that can lead to asthma due to an irritant reaction. Remember that there are various substances utilized in different industries that can lead to occupational asthma such as the following:

  • Exposure to green coffee beans, grains and papain
  • Exposure to the proteins in animal dander and hair
  • Metals such as chromium, platinum, nickel sulfate and even soldering fumes
  • Flax, cotton and hemp dust in the textile industry

    Occupational asthma

    Individuals who work in the healthcare field can end up with an allergy to latex gloves by inhaling the powdered proteins from the interior lining of the gloves.

  • Chemical exposure after working with shellac and lacquer, adhesives, carpeting, plastics, foam, epoxy resins, rubber, enzymes in detergents, dyes and insulation.

Is my asthma work-related?

Generally, if the symptoms become worse during the work days and starts to improve when at home for any length of time and then recur upon returning to work, occupational asthma must be considered.

Signs and symptoms of occupational asthma

The symptoms of occupational asthma usually include the general signs of asthma such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, tightening of the chest and breathing difficulty. In some cases, nasal congestion, irritation of the eyes and/or runny nose might be present as well. As mentioned earlier, this might be linked to an allergy or irritant reaction after being exposed to potential triggers in the workplace.

If an individual is suspected with occupational asthma, a doctor should be consulted for a referral to an allergist. The allergist will conduct a detailed exam including the medical history and current health issues. In most cases, a treatment plan is created including the medications to control the asthma and prevention.

Prevention

Minimizing exposure to the potential triggers in the workplace is a vital step along with proper medical management. Nevertheless, even with medications, continued exposure will only make asthma harder to control.

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