Occupational Asthma Disease – Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Occupational asthma by far has become the most common work-related lung disease in developed nations. However, the precise number of newly diagnosed cases of asthma in adults due to occupational exposure is still unknown. Occupational asthma disease is caused by inhaling fumes, gases, dust or other potentially harmful substances while "on the job." Often, your symptoms are worse during the days or nights you work, improve or become better when you have time off and start again when you go back to work. People with a family history of allergies are more likely to develop occupational asthma, particularly to some substances such as flour, animals and latex. However, even if you don't have a history record, you can still develop this disease if you are exposed to conditions that induce it (especially if you smoke, then you are at a greater risk of developing asthma).

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Normally, the occupational asthma disease is caused by exposure to particular inhaled chemicals in the workplace that cause the airways to become excessively reactive. There are many agents which can cause such an occurrence of this illness. Inhalations of isocyanates, cereal dust, or flour, for example, are currently the most common factors of occupational asthma disease. Besides, the rate of this disease pattern varies within individual industries. Irritants in high doses which include hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide or ammonia found in the petroleum or chemical industries can further induce the onset of the sickness. If you are exposed to any of these substances at high concentrations, you may begin wheezing and experiencing other asthma symptoms immediately after exposure.

On the other hand, allergies play a central role in many cases of occupational asthma. The type of asthma disease incurred generally develops only after months or years of exposure to a work-related substance. And this is why workers who already have asthma or some other respiratory disorder may also experience an increase in their symptoms during exposure to these irritants on the spot. For example, workers in the washing powder industry may develop an allergy to the enzymes of the bacteria Bacillus subtilis, while bakers may develop an allergy and occupational asthma symptoms from exposure to various flours or baking enzymes. Similarly, veterinarians, fishermen and animal handlers in laboratories can develop allergic reactions to animal proteins, whereas the healthcare professionals can develop asthma from breathing in powdered proteins from latex gloves or from mixing powdered medications.

Many people with persistent asthma symptoms caused by substances at work are wrongly diagnosed as having bronchitis. If occupational asthma is not correctly diagnosed early and you are not shielded or protected from the exposure, then it can cause permanent changes to your lungs. Perhaps, such a medical diagnosis to measure the flow of air in and out of your lungs so-called spirometer or a pulmonary function test may necessarily be performed. As it involves giving an inhaled medicine called a bronchodilator to relax or dilate the airways, this test may entail administering a medicine alternatively to see how excessively responsive or twitchy the airways are.

Last but certainly not least, pre-treatment with specific medications to protect against asthma worsened at work may be helpful. Most patients with occupational asthma will get worse over time if they remain exposed, so avoidance of the trigger is important. Well, you can always visit an allergist or immunologist who is known to be the best qualified physician if you want to have a closer view of whether your symptoms are allergy or asthma-related. After all, your medical advocate so-called an allergist or immunologist can properly diagnose your problems and develop a treatment plan to help you cope and feel better.

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