Occupational Asthma: Causes and Symptoms Explained
If you have recently developed new asthma symptoms at work, or your current asthma symptoms have worsened, it could be a sign of occupational Asthma.
In this blog, we’ll explore the various causes of Occupational Asthma, including the different types of substances and irritants that can trigger it. We’ll also delve into the symptoms of Occupational Asthma, how it’s diagnosed, and what you can do to prevent this condition.
What Is Occupational Asthma?
Occupational Asthma is a type of Asthma that is triggered by inhaling certain substances or irritants in the workplace. These substances can include chemicals, dust, fumes, or other airborne particles that can cause inflammation in the airways and lead to asthma symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
Although anyone can develop Occupational Asthma, people with Asthma are most at risk.
What Causes Occupational Asthma?
Occupational Asthma directly results from exposure to harmful substances in the workplace. Some examples of harmful substances directly linked to Occupational Asthma include:
- Dust from flour milling, wood processing or fiberglass manufacturing
- Chemicals from plastic, glue, or paint production
- Gasses from chemical manufacturing
- Fumes from metal welding
- Mould spores from wood processing
What Are the Symptoms?
Many people with Occupational Asthma will notice that their symptoms change over the course of the working week. Some may complain of symptoms during their days at work but might notice their symptoms subside when they are off work.
With Occupational Asthma, symptoms vary, however, the most common include:
- Shortness of breath
- Rhinitis (Inflammation inside the nose)
- A tight chest
- Conjunctivitis (inflamed, red, sore, or runny eyes)
Occupational Asthma is often reversible with the correct treatment; however, if employees are repeatedly exposed to airborne irritants, symptoms will return.
Treatment for occupational Asthma typically involves:
- Avoiding exposure to the trigger substance.
- Using medication to manage symptoms.
- Potentially changing jobs or work environments.
Identifying and managing Occupational Asthma early is vital to prevent long-term respiratory damage.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, or your asthma symptoms have recently worsened, it could be a sign of Occupational Asthma. You should contact your GP for an investigation.
How To Protect Yourself and Your Workforce
Occupational Asthma is a serious but preventable health condition. There are several things that employers and employees can do to protect themselves in the workplace, such as:
- Wear PPE – Personal Protective Equipment such as ventilation masks, eye goggles, and overalls can prevent harmful substances, such as dust sticking to clothing and entering the airways.
- Limit Time with Harmful Substances – Each workplace will have strict rules depending on the industry, such as how long an employee can be exposed to harmful substances. You must always adhere to industry regulations on exposure times to protect yourself and your employees.
- Use Adequate Ventilation Systems – Using an appropriate ventilation system, such as an LEV, is one of the best and most effective ways to protect your workforce. An LEV system captures harmful substances at the source and safely disposes of them outside the breathing zone.
Get In Touch
If you are concerned about harmful substances in the workplace and want to learn how to better protect your workforce with an LEV system, please contact our P602 engineers here.