Asthma at Work
Occupational asthma is caused by being exposed to irritants in the form of vapors, fumes, gases, particles, or allergens like dust or mold in the workplace. Many substances such as dust or fumes from plant products are common and usually safe for most people. Other substances are potentially harmful.
You may notice asthma symptoms right after being exposed to an allergen or irritant, or symptoms may come on gradually as your immune system produces an allergic response. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, a runny nose, nasal congestion, and eye irritation. They may improve or disappear when you leave work at the end of the day. You may notice a lot of improvement when you are away from work on the weekend or on vacation. As time goes by, symptoms may become more persistent, even when away from work.
You may be more likely to develop workplace-related asthma if you have a personal or family history of allergies or asthma. Once you develop asthma, other triggers such as smoke, cold air, or a viral respiratory infection may cause asthma symptoms.
If you notice symptoms, call your doctor. Be sure to provide a workplace history.
Online Medical Reviewers:
Horan, Richard MD
O'Brien, Chris RN, MPH
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.