OCCUPATIONAL ASTHMA

Description

  • A lung disorder
  • Causes inflammation and reversible narrowing of the airways
  • Caused by substances found at the workplace

Symptoms

  • Wheezing, sometimes just at night
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Eye irritation and tearing

Causes

  • Many workplace substances have been identified as possible causes

These include:

  • Animal substances
  • Chemicals, such as anhydrides, diisocyanates and acids
  • Enzymes used in detergents and flour conditioners
  • Metals, particularly platinum, chromium and nickel sulfate
  • Plant substances, including proteins found in natural rubber latex, flour,etc
  • Respiratory irritants

Risk Factors

  • Having existing allery or asthma
  • Family history of allergy or asthma
  • Working around known asthma triggers
  • Smoking
  • The following workers are at higher risk:
  • Bakers
  • Detergent manufacturers
  • Drug manufacturers
  • Farmers
  • Grain elevator workers
  • Metal workers
  • Millers
  • Plastics workers
  • Woodworkers

Diagnostic Tests

  • Blood tests to look for antibodies to the substance
  • Bronchial provocation test
  • Chest x-ray
  • Complete blood count
  • Peak expiratory flow rate
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Nitric oxide test
  • Spirometry

Treatment

Long-term Control Medications:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Long-acting beta agonists (LABAs)
  • Combination inhalers
  • Theophylline

Quick-relief Medications:

  • Short-acting beta agonists
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent HFA)
  • Oral and intravenous corticosteroids

Treatment for allergy-induced asthma:

  • Allergy medications
  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy)

Medications

  • Fluticasone (Flovent Diskus, Flovent HFA)
  • Budesonide (Pulmicort Flexhaler)
  • Mometasone (Asmanex)
  • Montelukast (Singulair)
  • Zafirlukast (Accolate)
  • Salmeterol (Serevent Diskus)
  • Formoterol (Foradil)
  • Formoterol (Symbicort)
  • Formoterol (Dulera)
  • Pirbuterol (Maxair Autohaler)
  • Methylprednisolone (Medrol)
  • Ipratropium (Atrovent)
  • Omalizumab (Xolair)

Prevention

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid irritating gases
  • Minimize household allergens