About occupational asthma

What is occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma is asthma brought on by inhaling chemical fumes, gases, dust, or other chemicals while at work. Occupational asthma can develop as a result of being exposed to a material to which the people are allergic or immune, or to a hazardous substance that causes irritation.

Occupational asthma, like other kinds of asthma, can cause chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Occupational asthma is more common in people who have allergies or have a family history of allergies.

Occupational triggers should be avoided as much as possible for managing asthma. Other than that, therapy for occupational asthma is similar to treatment for other forms of asthma, and it usually include taking drugs to alleviate symptoms. If the individual already has asthma, therapy may be able to keep it from getting worse at work.

Occupational asthma can cause permanent lung damage, disability, or death if it is not diagnosed properly and the individual is not protected or able to prevent exposure.

What are the symptoms for occupational asthma?

asthma developed because of inhaling chemical fumes, gases, dust, or other chemicals while at work is known as occupational asthma. Wheezing, shortness of breath, runny nose, nasal congestion, eye discomfort, and Chest tightness are all common symptoms of occupational asthma. When exposed to the irritant(s) at work, these symptoms may become worse. The source of the problem might be allergic or non-allergic. When the person is not at work, symptoms may improve. Occupational asthma symptoms might take several hours to show, even when you're at home after a long day at work. Symptoms may diminish on weekends and holidays when the condition first appears, but contact to an occupational allergen might trigger asthma within 24 hours.

What are the causes for occupational asthma?

Over 250 industrial chemicals have been identified as potential triggers for occupational asthma. These are some of the substances:

·      Proteins present in dander, hair, scales, fur, saliva, and bodily wastes of animals are examples of animal compounds.

·      Paints, varnishes, adhesives, laminates, and soldering resin are all made with chemicals. Chemicals used in insulation, packing materials, and foam mattresses and upholstery are some further examples.

·      Detergents and flour conditioners include enzymes.

·      Platinum, chromium, and nickel sulphate are all metals.

·      Proteins present in natural rubber latex, flour, cereals, cotton, flax, hemp, rye, wheat, and papain – a digestive enzyme produced from papaya — are all examples of plant compounds.

·      Chlorine gas, sulphur dioxide, and smoke are all respiratory irritants.

When the lungs get irritated or inflamed, it develops asthma symptoms. inflammation triggers a chain of events that narrow the airways, making breathing harder. Lung inflammation can be produced by an allergic reaction to a chemical in occupational asthma, which normally develops over time. In the absence of allergies, breathing fumes from a lung irritant, such as chlorine, can cause rapid asthma symptoms.

What are the treatments for occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma is treated mostly by removing the patient from the source of exposure. Most people with occupational asthma will deteriorate over time if they are exposed to the trigger, therefore avoiding it is critical. This frequently entails a job change or a shift in responsibilities at work.

Occupational asthma is frequently reversible, which means that if the irritants that caused the asthma are avoided, the symptoms may go away. However, if the individual is exposed for an extended period of time, harm caused might be irreversible.

Occupational asthma can be treated the same manner as typical asthma, with inhaled bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs that open (dilate) the airways (glucocorticoids). The most crucial measure, however, is to minimise additional exposure.

What are the risk factors for occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma is more likely to develop if the individual is severely exposed to asthma causing agents. They will also be at a higher risk if they:


·        Suffer from allergies or asthma. Even though this increases the risk, many people with allergies or asthma work in environments that expose them to lung irritants and never experience symptoms.

·       Their family has a history of allergies or asthma. A genetic tendency to asthma may be passed down from their parents.

·       Their job is planned around the triggers of asthma. Some compounds are known to irritate the lungs and provoke asthma attacks.

·       They are a smoker. If they are exposed to particular types of irritants while smoking, they are more likely to acquire asthma.

Is there a cure/medications for occupational asthma?

It is not possible to cure asthma, however, occupational asthma is frequently reversible, which means that if the irritants that caused the asthma are avoided, the symptoms may go away. However, if the individual is exposed for an extended period of time, irreversible harm might occur.

Workplaces that restrict employees' exposure to chemicals and other compounds that may be sensitizers or irritants are the best method to prevent occupational asthma. Implementing better control systems to prevent exposures, utilising less dangerous compounds, and providing employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) are examples of such strategies.

The treatment for occupational asthma is same as the ordinary asthma. The occupational asthma can be treated by using inhaled bronchodilators that expand (dilate) the airways, as well as inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs (glucocorticoids) and, most significantly, by avoiding future allergen exposure.

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