If you work in a factory or on a construction site and you suddenly notice wheezing and trouble breathing, it is possible that you could be dealing with a form of asthma known as occupational asthma. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, around 10-25 percent of adults with asthma also experience occupational asthma. This is often caused by exposure to certain irritants including fumes, smoke, dust, and gases.
How do you know if you have occupational asthma? You may experience these symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Trouble breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Eye irritation
People with occupational asthma may notice that their symptoms subside once they leave work; however, it can take hours for symptoms to go away and you may still notice that your symptoms persist even once you’re home.
However, it’s important to note whether symptoms only appear once you arrive at the workplace and when symptoms get worse (e.g. throughout the workweek). If you also notice symptoms lessening or going away on the weekends, this is another sign that your work environment could be impacting your health.
Should I see an asthma specialist?
If you are ever experiencing symptoms of asthma, you must see an asthma specialist who can diagnose your condition and provide you with immediate treatment. Since asthma attacks can be life-threatening, you mustn’t ignore minor symptoms, as they can often get worse over time if left untreated. If you are experiencing wheezing, shortness of breath, or a persistent cough while at work, it’s important to discuss these symptoms with a qualified specialist.
How is occupational asthma treated?
As with an allergic reaction, it’s important to avoid the offending substances that could be causing your symptoms. Along with avoidance, your doctor will also provide you with the medication that will help to reduce airway inflammation along with medication that should only be used if you notice the symptoms of an asthma attack flaring up. You will often be prescribed a long-term control medication such as inhaled steroids, as well as a fasting-acting, quick-relief medication such as an Albuterol inhaler.
If you are dealing with symptoms of occupational asthma, you must turn to an allergist and asthma specialist who can properly diagnose and treat your condition.