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Occupational asthma : Causes - Symptoms- Diagnosis -Treatment

 What is occupational asthma?

Occupational respiratory disease is caused by inhaling substances at work, like dust, chemicals, fumes and animal fur.

If you develop new respiratory disease symptoms at work, or your childhood respiratory disease comes back, you may have activity respiratory disease.

You may be at your geographical point for a short while before you notice symptoms. This can be as a result of it taking a short while for your system to become sensitive to geographical point triggers.

But once you’ve become sensitive to a substance at work, it will trigger respiratory disease symptoms subsequent time you are available in contact with it – although it’s simply in tiny amounts.

What is occupational asthma?
occupational asthma

Asthma could be an illness that affects your airways, creating it onerous to breathe. Once respiratory disease begins or gets worse attributable to your job, tending suppliers could diagnose work-related respiratory disease. For 15 August 1945 to thirty third of adult-onset respiratory disease, their respiratory disease is work-related

  1. Respiratory system

  1. Nasal cavity

  2. Pharynx

  3. Larynx

  4. Trachea

  5. Bronchioles and smaller air passages

  6. Lungs

  7. Muscles of breathing

Medical terms

  • Occupational asthma is a type of asthma triggered or worsened by exposure to materials in the workplace. It is the most common form of work-related lung disease, accounting for about 10 percent of new cases of asthma in adults. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe, and may include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. In some cases, it can lead to airway inflammation, which can have significant impacts on breathing and overall health.

  • Occupational asthma is a type of lung disease caused by exposure to certain substances while working. These exposures can occur through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. These exposures can be to irritants such as dust, fumes, and chemicals that can lead to airway inflammation and obstruction of airways. Occupational asthma can be a chronic condition, however, with proper monitoring and management, it can be managed effectively.

  • Occupational respiratory disease|respiratory disease|respiratory illness|respiratory disorder} is asthma that is caused by inhaling chemical fumes, gasses, mud or alternative substances on the duty. activity respiratory illness may end up from exposure to a substance you are sensitive to — inflicting an allergic or medical specialty response — or to associate an irritating poisonous substance.

  • Like alternative varieties of respiratory illness, activity respiratory illness will cause chest tightness, unhealthy and shortness of breath. folks with allergies or with a case history of allergies square measure additional seemingly to develop activity respiratory illness.

  • Avoidance of activity triggers is a very important part of management. Otherwise, treatment for activity respiratory disease|respiratory disease|respiratory illness|respiratory disorder} is comparable to treatment for alternative varieties of asthma and usually includes taking medications to cut back symptoms. If you have already got respiratory illness, typically treatment will facilitate it from turning into worse within the work.

If it isn't properly diagnosed and you're not protected or able to avoid exposure, active respiratory illness will cause permanent respiratory organ injury, incapacity or death.


Work-related asthma has two categories:

  • Occupational asthma starts due to inhaling (breathing in) irritants in the workplace.

  • Work-exacerbated asthma is when existing asthma gets worse from exposure to substances at work.

Who gets occupational asthma?

Anyone United Nations agency spends a big time around common irritants will develop asthma attacks. however some careers have the next risk due to frequent contact. These careers will include:

  • Bakers who may get “baker’s lung” after breathing in flour and grain dust over a long period.

  • Farmers, grain elevator workers or millers.

  • Healthcare workers who breathe in powder from latex gloves or other chemicals.

  • Laboratory workers who deal with animals.

  • Pharmaceutical workers with exposure to airborne particles of drugs.

  • Maintenance or cleaning occupations with exposure to chemicals from cleaning products.

  • People who work with metals, plastics or wood.

Symptoms Occupational asthma

Occupational asthma symptoms are similar to those caused by other types of asthma. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Wheezing, sometimes just at night

  • Coughing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest tightness

Other possible accompanying signs and symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose

  • Nasal congestion

  • 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.

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate medical treatment if your symptoms worsen. Severe asthma attack attacks will be critical. Signs associate degreed symptoms of an respiratory illness that desires emergency treatment include:

  • Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing

  • No improvement even after using a quick relief inhaler

  • Shortness of breath even with minimal activity

Make a briefing to examine a doctor if you've got respiratory issues, like coughing, asthmatic or shortness of breath. respiratory issues could also be a symptom of asthma attack, particularly if symptoms appear to be obtaining worse over time or seem to be aggravated by specific triggers or irritants.

Causes Occupational asthma

More than 250 workplace substances have been identified as possible causes of occupational asthma. These substances include:

  • Animal substances, such as proteins found in danger, hair, scales, fur, saliva and body wastes.

  • Chemicals used to build paints, varnishes, adhesives, laminates and attachment organic compounds. Different examples embrace chemicals accustomed to build insulation, packaging materials, and foam mattresses and fabric. 

  • 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.

Asthma symptoms begin once your lungs become irritated (inflamed). Inflammation causes many reactions that prohibit the airways, creating respiration though. With activity asthma attack, respiratory organ inflammation could also be triggered by Associate in Nursing allergic response to a substance that typically develops over time. As an alternative, eupnear fumes from a respiratory organ pain in the neck, like gas, will trigger immediate asthma attack symptoms within the absence of allergic reaction.

Risk factors Occupational asthma

The intensity of your exposure will increase your risk of developing activity respiratory illness. additionally, you'll have accumulated risk if:

  • You have existing allergies or asthma. Although this can increase your risk, many people who have allergies or asthma do jobs that expose them to lung irritants and never have symptoms.

  • Allergies or asthma runs in your family. Your parents may pass down a genetic predisposition to asthma.

  • You work around known asthma triggers. Some substances are known to be lung irritants and asthma triggers.

  • You smoke. Smoking will increase your risk of developing respiratory disease if you're exposed to bound sorts of irritants. 

High-risk occupations

It's doable to develop respiratory illness in virtually any geographical point. however your risk is higher if you're employed in bound occupations. a number of the riskiest jobs and also the asthma-producing substances related to them embrace the following:


Asthma-producing substances

Adhesive handlers


Animal handlers, veterinarians

Animal proteins

Bakers, millers, farmers

Cereal grains

Carpet makers

Vegetable gums

Metal workers

Cobalt, nickel

Food production workers

Milk powder, egg powder

Forest workers, carpenters, cabinetmakers

Wood dust



Health care workers

Latex and chemicals

Pharmaceutical workers, bakers

Drugs, enzymes

Seafood processors

Herring, snow crab

Spray painters, insulation installers, plastics and foam industry workers, welders, metalworkers, chemical manufacturers, shellac handlers


Textile workers

Dyes, plastics

Users of plastics or epoxy resins, chemical manufacturers


Complications Occupational asthma

The longer you are exposed to a substance that causes bronchial asthma, the more serious your symptoms might become — and therefore the longer it'll deem them to boost once you finish your exposure to the botheration. In some cases, exposure to mobile bronchial asthma triggers will cause permanent respiratory organ changes, leading to incapacity or death.

Prevention Occupational asthma

The best way to stop respiratory illness is for workplaces to regulate the workers' level of exposure to chemicals and alternative substances that will be sensitizers or irritants. Such measures will embody implementing higher management strategies to stop exposures, victimization of less harmful substances and providing personal protection instrumentality (PPE) for employees.

Although you will admit medications to alleviate symptoms and management inflammation related to activity respiratory illness, you'll be able to do many things on your own to take care of overall health and reduce the chance of attacks:

  • If you smoke, quit. In addition to all its other health benefits, being smoke-free may help prevent or lessen symptoms of occupational asthma.

  • Get a flu vaccination. This can help prevent illness.

  • Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and alternative medications which will build symptoms worse.
    Lose weight. For folks that square measure corpulent, losing weight will facilitate improved symptoms and respiratory organs perform.
    If you're within the US and you've got employment in a very risky profession, your company has legal responsibilities to assist defend you from unsafe chemicals. beneath pointers established by the activity Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), your leader is needed to try and do the following: 

  • Inform you if you'll be working with any hazardous chemicals.

  • Train you how to safely handle these chemicals.

  • Train you how to respond to an emergency, such as a chemical spill.

  • Provide protective gear, such as masks and respirators.

  • Offer additional training if a new chemical is introduced to your workplace.

Under government agency tips, your leader is required to keep a fabric safety information sheet (MSDS) for every venturous chemical employed in your geographic point. This can be a document that has got to be submitted by the chemical's manufacturer to your leader. you have got a right to visualize and duplicate such documents. If you think you are allergic to a precise substance, show the MSDS to your doctor.

While at work, be alert for unsafe and unhealthy operating conditions and report them to your supervisor. If necessary, decision ANd Health Administration|OSHA|agency|federal agency|government agency|bureau|office|authority} at 800-321-OSHA (800-321-6742) and enkindle an on-the-scene examination. you'll be able to do that in order that your name will not be discovered by your leader.

How do you prove occupational asthma?

If a person develops asthma shortness of breath and wheezing after only a few months working in a particular environment it's likely that their symptoms are due to the job Your doctor needs to know what type of work you do as well as exactly when your asthma began and how frequently you work in dangerous environments However proving occupational asthma without any other medical history may be difficult but with the right information it can be done successfully The first step is asking your employer for records that show if there has been an increase in the amount of dust or other allergen levels at your workplace or during certain times of.

Is occupational asthma common?

Occupational asthma also known as work-related asthma is defined as a bad reaction within the lungs of someone who has been exposed to an inhalant or dust in the workplace This type of asthma can be caused by exposure to a single substance from one source such as an animal allergen or mold spores or it can be caused by exposure to many different substances Allergens and irritants that come into contact with your skin through punctures cuts and abrasion have also been known to cause occupational asthma.

What is the most common cause of occupational asthma?

The most common cause of occupational asthma is direct exposure to allergens in the workplace As such it's important that the individual affected by asthma works with his doctor and employer to mitigate allergen exposure as much as possible However sometimes these measures fail resulting in an asthmatic reaction that is both painful and difficult to treat In addition oftentimes symptoms are not immediate upon contact with an allergen meaning that it can be difficult for an asthmatic worker to identify the source of the problem.

What is difficult to treat asthma?

For people with persistent asthma treating the condition can be complicated They may need more than one medicine to control their symptoms and prevent flare-ups of the disease As a result they could take anywhere from four to 15 different medicines per day But good news: There are ways to make managing your asthma easier Work closely with your doctor and try these three strategies as you work toward longer symptom-free periods of time: 1) Use an asthma action plan; 2) talk about when it's time for change; 3) manage your stress.

Occupational asthma is mainly caused by inhaling certain chemicals such as: dusts found in wood carpet and bathroom cleaners; latex dust; mold spores; metals and metal dusts including nickel cobalt and chromium; cleaning agents; mineral fibers like asbestos that are used for insulation in buildings People who work with these materials may develop occupational asthma if they are sensitive to them.

What substances cause occupational asthma?

There are many substances that can trigger occupational asthma Some of the substances include: Isocyanates: These are a type of chemical commonly used in textile and rubber businesses They have been linked to asthma in those who work with them Workers exposed to isocyanates may develop an allergic reaction reducing lung function because of inflammation and mucous production Individuals with allergies or hypersensitivities to isocyanate exposure have been proven to have more severe reactions than non-allergic people exposed to the same chemicals Isocyanates also cross-react with other chemicals found in latex which can cause an allergy.

Diagnosis Occupational asthma

Diagnosing activity asthma attack|respiratory disease|respiratory illness|respiratory disorder} is comparable to identifying alternative sorts of asthma. However, your doctor will attempt to determine whether or not a geographic point substance is inflicting your symptoms and what it should be.

An respiratory disorder diagnosis must be confirmed with respiratory organ (pulmonary) operate checks Associate in Nursing an allergic reaction skin prick test. Your doctor could order blood tests, X-rays or alternative tests to rule out a cause aside from activity respiratory disorder.

A hypersensitivity reaction and medicine specialist or pulmonologist will diagnose activity respiratory illness. This specialist can raise you many questions on your anamnesis. they're going to ought to apprehend wherever you have got worked and what jobs you had. This data provides your tending supplier clues regarding what can be triggering respiratory illness attacks.

Before your appointment, it is often useful to stay a log of once you have symptoms. Then you and your supplier will compare the days you have got symptoms to your work schedule. Knowing once you have the worst symptoms can facilitate your supplier confirm if you have got work-related respiratory illness.

You’ll even have an entire physical test. This test will rule out alternative conditions that might be inflicting your symptoms, like chronic rubor, esophageal reflux disorder (GERD) or preventive sleep disorder.

It’s necessary to induce care early if you think you may have an active respiratory illness. continued exposure to irritants might harm your lungs for good.

  1. Lung ventilation-perfusion scan

Testing your lung function

Your doctor may ask you to perform lung function tests. These include:

  • Spirometry. This noninvasive check, that measures how well you breathe, is the most well-liked check for identification of respiratory disorders. Throughout this 10- to 15-minute check, you are taking deep breaths and forcefully exhale into a hose connected to a machine known as a measuring system. If bound key measurements are below traditional for someone of your age and sex, your airways could also be blocked by inflammation — a key sign of respiratory disorder.
    Your doctor has you inhale a medicine drug employed in respiratory disorder treatment, then retake the spirometry check. If your measurements improve considerably, it's as if you've got a respiratory disorder. 

  • Peak flow measurement. Your doctor could raise you to hold atiny low hand-held device that measures how briskly you'll be able to force air out of your lungs (peak flow meter). The slower you're able to exhale, the more severe your condition. you will probably be asked to use your peak flow meter at designated intervals throughout operating and non working hours. If your respiration improves considerably once you are removed from work, you'll have respiratory illness. 

Tests for causes of occupational asthma

Your doctor may do tests to see whether you have a reaction to specific substances. These include:

  • Allergy skin tests. Doctors can prick your skin with refined allergic reaction extracts ANd observe your skin for signs of an hypersensitive reaction. These tests cannot be accustomed to diagnose sensitivities to chemicals however are also helpful in evaluating sensitivity to animal dander, mold, dirt mites and latex. 

  • Challenge test. You inhale an aerosol containing a small amount of a suspected chemical to see if it triggers a reaction. Doctors test your lung function before and after the aerosol is given to see whether it affects your ability to breathe.

Treatment Occupational asthma

Avoiding the geographical point substance that causes your symptoms is crucial. However, once you become sensitive to a substance, little amounts might trigger asthma attack symptoms, even though you wear a mask or respirator.

The goal of treatment is to forestall symptoms associated with stopping a respiratory disorder ongoing. you'll like medications for productive treatment. a similar medication tips square measure accustomed to treat each activity and nonoccupational asthma attack.

The right medication for you depends on variety of things, as well as your age, symptoms, {asthma|asthma attack|bronchial asthma attack|respiratory disease|respiratory illness|respiratory disorder} triggers and what looks to figure best to stay your asthma in check.

Medications include:

  • 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 discover you wish to use a quick-relief dispenser additional usually than your doctor recommends, you'll have to modify your long-run management medication.

Also, if your respiratory disease is triggered or worsened by allergies, you'll take pleasure in allergic reaction treatment. allergic reaction treatments embody oral and nasal spray antihistamines and decongestants.

Alternative medicine

While many of us claim various remedies scale back asthma attack symptoms, in most cases additional analysis is required to ascertain if they work and if they need attainable aspect effects, particularly in individuals with allergies and asthma attacks. variety of other treatments are tried for asthma attack, however there is no clear, well-tried get pleasure from treatments such as:

  • Breathing techniques. These include structured breathing programs such as the Buteyko method, the Papworth method, lung-muscle training and yoga breathing exercises (pranayama). While these techniques may help improve quality of life, they have not proved to improve asthma symptoms.

  • Acupuncture. This technique has roots in ancient Chinese medication. It involves inserting terribly skinny needles at strategic points on your body. treatment is safe and usually painless, however proof for its use in respiratory illness is inconclusive. 

Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your primary doctor. Or you may start by seeing a doctor who specializes in asthma (allergist-immunologist or pulmonologist).

Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance. You may need to stop taking antihistamines if you're likely to have an allergy skin test.

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.

  • Note the timing of your asthma symptoms — for example, note if your symptoms are worse at work and get better when you're away from work.

  • Make a list of all possible workplace lung irritants and anything else that seems to trigger your symptoms. You may want to take a look at the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for your work area, if there is one. Usually kept in a binder near your work area, this sheet lists toxic substances and irritants used on your job site. (Keep in mind, not all occupational asthma triggers are listed in the MSDS).

  • Write down key personal information, including major stresses or recent life changes and changes in your job or workplace.

  • Bring a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you take.

  • Bring a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember information you missed or forgot.

  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

For occupational asthma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Is a workplace irritant a likely cause of my breathing problems or asthma flare-ups?

  • Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?

  • What tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?

  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?

  • How do I treat occupational asthma? Do I have to quit my job?

  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?

  • I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?

  • Are there restrictions that I need to follow?

  • Should I see a specialist?

  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?

  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • When did you first notice your symptoms?

  • How severe are your symptoms?

  • Do you have breathing problems when you're away from work or only when you're on the job?

  • Have your symptoms been continuous, or do they come and go?

  • Have you been diagnosed with allergies or asthma?

  • Are you exposed to fumes, gasses, smoke, irritants, chemicals, or plant or animal substances at work? If so, how often and for how long?

  • Do you work in unusual environmental conditions, such as extreme heat, cold or dryness?

  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?

  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

  • Do allergies and asthma run in your family?

General summary

  1. Occupational asthma is triggered by a certain substance or class of substances in the workplace which causes inflammation and tightening of the airways. Occupational asthma symptoms typically develop quickly within minutes to hours after exposure to an allergen and disappear rapidly on removal from exposure.

  2. Occupational asthma is a type of work-related asthma that has three features

  3. It is caused by an exposure to a workplace agent The most common causes are indoor allergens chemicals and irritants In addition an occupational illness may result from an individual’s reaction to a combination of the above exposures in the workplace The term “occupational asthma” usually implies that there is no other potential cause for the asthma than workplace exposures Many workers develop occupational asthma during their employment at one site but symptoms can often be traced back to another workplace or environment in which they previously worked Occupational ast.

Occupational asthma : Causes - Symptoms- Diagnosis -Treatment

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