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 Medicine.net, “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.

Can Children with Asthma Keep Pets?

kid and pet 178496846The presence of some pets in the home can trigger asthma attacks in children. While many believe pets’ fur is the culprit, it is actually the allergens such as dust and proteins found in pets’ dander, saliva, dead-skin flakes, urine and feathers that can cause a reaction.

These allergens and proteins are airborne-they can enter the body by way of the mouth or nose. When they are combined with antibodies (a substance that the body recognizes as foreign) and inhaled into the lungs, they can trigger the body’s defense mechanisms, causing inflammation and eventually restricting air flow.

It is recommended that the easiest way to reduce the hazards of pet dander and allergens in the home is to relocate the animal. For some, this decision can be difficult as pets often become members of the family. If the option of relocating the animal is not likely, then the following solutions should be considered.

  • Minimizing contact by keeping your pet outdoors as much as possible or prohibiting the animal from the bedroom of the person with asthma.
  • Using vacuums with HEPA filters to frequently vacuum surfaces where dander can accumulate.
  • Wash pets often and groom them outside the home.
  • Keep animals off surfaces such as the couch, which collects pet dander.
  • Dust frequently. It is best to dust when the person with asthma is not home.
  • Clean bird and rodent cages thoroughly at least once a week.
  • Purchase air cleaners with HEPA filters.
  • Keep children away from litter boxes or places designated for the animal to eliminate waste.
  • Change carpeted floors to hard wood floors.

It is highly advised that you consult a physician to confirm that it is okay to keep your pet and to explore the best ways to reduce the risks of triggering an asthma attack.  Your doctor may be able to develop a treatment plan, which can include allergy shots, sprays or pills to help manage symptoms.

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.

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

please do not smoke!Secondhand smoke is a combination of side stream smoke-which comes from the end of a burning cigarette and mainstream smoke-which is exhaled by the smoker.  It may seem harmless but the smoke that comes from the end of the cigarette is considered to be even more harmful than the smoke inhaled by the smoker; because there are no filters. Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone; however, pregnant women, children and partners of people who smoke are the most vulnerable.

There are over 250 harmful chemicals that can be found in the smoke created by tobacco products. Some of these chemicals are carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, arsenic, vinyl chloride and formaldehyde. The Environmental Protection Agency categorizes secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen; meaning that it can cause cancer in humans.

The more you are exposed to secondhand smoke, the higher your risk of developing diseases and suffering from the health effects. Respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness and coughing can be triggered by secondhand smoke. Other harmful health effects include the increased risk of developing heart disease, respiratory disease and strokes.

Pregnant women who consistently breathe secondhand smoke may have miscarriages or give birth to low birth-weight and premature babies.  For newborns exposure can escalate the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Children can experience increased occurrences of asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections.

Secondhand smoke is harmful, despite the level of exposure.  Breathing in even a little smoke can be dangerous and the effects on your health can be immediate. There are several ways to reduce the risk of exposure to second hand smoke. You can ask members in your family not to smoke in your home, disallow smoking in your car and choose smoke- free restaurant and indoor places.

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.