Occupational asthma is asthma that’s caused or worsened by breathing in fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while one is “on the job.” Symptoms usually get worse as the workweek progresses, go away during weekends and vacations, and recur when you return to work. But they can occur both at work and away from work!!
Occupational asthma could be the first time when patient has asthma symptoms, or patient may have had asthma as a child and it has returned. If there is a history of underlying asthma, it may be worsened by being exposed to certain substances at work.
- Existing allergies or asthma.
- Allergies or asthma runs in family
- Working around substances that are known to be lung irritants and asthma triggers.
Up to 15% of asthma cases in the United States may be job-related.
Lungs/ airways get irritated/inflamed on exposure to certain substance. Irritation / inflammation initiate an immune response generating mediators that cause airway narrowing, making breathing difficult. This inflammation can develop over long term exposure or affect immediately.
More than 300 workplace substances have been identified as possible causes of occupational asthma. Enumerated are some of the most common ones:
- Animal substances, such as proteins found in dander, hair, scales, fur, saliva and body wastes.
- Chemicals, such as anhydrides, di-isocyanates and acids used to make paints, varnishes, adhesives, laminates and soldering resin. Other examples include chemicals used to make insulation, packaging materials, and foam mattresses and upholstery.
- Enzymes used in detergents and flour conditioners.
- Metals, particularly platinum, chromium and nickel sulfate.
- Plant substances, including proteins found in natural rubber latex, flour, cereals, cotton, flax, hemp, rye, wheat and papain, a digestive enzyme derived from papaya.
- Respiratory irritants, such as chlorine gas, sulfur dioxide and smoke.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A board certified allergist is the best qualified physician to determine if your symptoms are allergy or asthma-related. They can help diagnose and manage the problem. They can also help develop a treatment plan where you can work with your employer to avoid further exposure to substance that triggers the symptoms.
We at The Allergy Group provide friendly and quality driven care to help you breath and live better!!
The stakes are high!! Call 208 377 4000 to make an appointment or request an online appointment.