- By sahlhealth
- May 18, 2021
- 43 views
Occupational asthma is asthma that's caused by breathing in chemical fumes, gases, dust or other substances on the job. Occupational asthma can result from exposure to a substance you're sensitive to — causing an allergic or immunological response — or to an irritating toxic substance.
Like other types of asthma, occupational asthma can cause chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath. People with allergies or with a family history of allergies are more likely to develop occupational asthma.
Avoidance of occupational triggers is an important part of management. Otherwise, treatment for occupational asthma is similar to treatment for other types of asthma and generally includes taking medications to reduce symptoms. If you already have asthma, sometimes treatment can help it from becoming worse in the workplace.
If it's not correctly diagnosed and you are not protected or able to avoid exposure, occupational asthma can cause permanent lung damage, disability or death.
Occupational asthma symptoms are similar to those caused by other types of asthma. Signs and symptoms may include:
Wheezing, sometimes just at night
Shortness of breath
Other possible accompanying signs and symptoms may include:
Eye irritation and tearing
Occupational asthma symptoms depend on the substance you're exposed to, how long and how often you're exposed, and other factors. Your symptoms may:
Get worse as the workweek progresses, go away during weekends and vacations, and recur when you return to work.
Occur both at work and away from work.
Start as soon as you're exposed to an asthma-inducing substance at work or only after a period of regular exposure to the substance.
Continue after exposure is stopped. The longer you're exposed to the asthma-causing substance, the more likely you'll have long-lasting or permanent asthma symptoms.
Avoiding the workplace substance that causes your symptoms is critical. However, once you become sensitive to a substance, tiny amounts may trigger asthma symptoms, even if you wear a mask or respirator.
The goal of treatment is to prevent symptoms and stop an asthma attack in progress. You may need medications for successful treatment. The same medication guidelines are used to treat both occupational and nonoccupational asthma.
The right medication for you depends on a number of things, including your age, symptoms, asthma triggers and what seems to work best to keep your asthma under control.
Long-term control medications.
Inhaled corticosteroids. Inhaled corticosteroids reduce inflammation and have a relatively low risk of side effects.
Leukotriene modifiers. These controller medications are alternatives to corticosteroids.
Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs). LABAs open the airways and reduce inflammation. For asthma, LABAs generally should only be taken in combination with an inhaled corticosteroid.
Combination inhalers. These medications contain an LABA and a corticosteroid.
Quick-relief, short-term medications.
Short-acting beta agonists. These medications ease symptoms during an asthma attack.
Oral and intravenous corticosteroids. These relieve airway inflammation for severe asthma. Long-term, they cause serious side effects.
If you find you need to use a quick-relief inhaler more often than your doctor recommends, you may need to adjust your long-term control medication.
Also, if your asthma is triggered or worsened by allergies, you may benefit from allergy treatment. Allergy treatments include oral and nasal spray antihistamines and decongestants.