Are You Having Difficulty Breathing While At Work?

stk109169corDo you experience symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing or chest tightness while you are at work? Do these symptoms seem to go away when you are on vacation or away from work? There is a possibility that you may have a condition called occupational asthma.

As defined by, “Occupational asthma is a type of asthma that is caused by exposure to a particular substance in the workplace. Occupational asthma is not the same as previously diagnosed asthma that is worsened by being at work (this condition would be called work-aggravated asthma).”

There are several substances or triggers that can cause occupational asthma attacks. The most common are chemicals used in insulation, packing materials, paints or resins. Other irritants include metals such as nickel sulfate, smoke, gases and plant substances such as wheat, hemp or cotton.

Additional symptoms of this disease can include: inflammation of the lining around the eyes, runny nose,   tearing of the eyes and nasal congestion. Symptoms may get worse during the work week and go away after you have left work. They can also continue to occur both at work and outside of work. The longer you are exposed to the cause of the asthma attacks is the more likely you can develop long-lasting symptoms.

Some people are more at risk for developing occupational asthma. You may have an increased risk if you have a family history of asthma or allergies, you have a pre- existing asthma or allergy condition, you are a smoker or you work in an environment that has asthma triggers.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of occupational asthma it is advised that you see a physician as soon as possible because asthma attacks can be life-threatening.  Upon your visit to the doctor, he (she) may perform a series of tests such as pulmonary function, spirometry or peak flow measurement. Treatments and suggestions may include wearing a mask or respirator while working as well as prescribed medications.

To make an appointment with the Ambulatory Care Center at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.