What Can You Do About Occupational Asthma?

by Brent Woods

Occupational asthma, or work-related asthma, is a controllable condition that is the result of being exposed to certain chemicals or substances. The reaction you could experience from exposure to the allergen can vary. If you suspect that you have occupational asthma, here is what you need to know. 

What Type of Reaction Can You Have?

Occupational asthma can manifest in various ways, including an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction can include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and eye irritation. You could also experience an asthma attack. The asthma attack usually occurs after there is a buildup of histamines in your system. 

There are dozens of possible allergens in the workplace that could trigger a reaction. For instance, some people experience a reaction due to using latex gloves. Other possible allergens include metals, dyes, proteins, grain, and cotton. 

What Can You Do?

If you believe that you have occupational asthma, one of the most important steps you can take is to see an allergy specialist. He or she can conduct testing to determine whether or not you are experiencing a reaction due to exposure to an allergen. 

To help the allergy specialist, keep notes on when you experience symptoms. For instance, if your symptoms are worse during the work week, but better once you leave work, note it. You also should make note of substances that you come into contact with that seem to make your symptoms worse. 

How Is It Treated?

Treatment of occupational asthma generally focuses on trigger avoidance. For instance, if you suffer from a latex allergy and have to wear gloves at work, switching to vinyl gloves can help prevent a reaction.

You can also wear protective equipment to help reduce the chances of being exposed to allergens. For instance, wearing a mask can help limit exposure to smoke and fumes from chemicals you are allergic to. 

The allergy specialist might also recommend the use of medications to help control your asthma symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists are common methods of treating asthma.

In addition to these measures, you can enlist the help of your employer in keeping your allergies in check. For instance, if your allergen is cigarette smoke, your employer can prohibit smoking in the workplace. Your employer can also provide additional safety equipment for you and other employees who are suffering from occupational asthma. 

An allergy specialist like Allergy Asthma & Immunology Associates can help you identify other methods of controlling your symptoms so that you can continue to work without putting your health at risk.