Occupational Asthma

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When to see a doctor:

If you get asthma or related symptoms at work, and the symptoms get better when you are away from work on leave or vacation, contact doctor for evaluation.
Occupational asthma is totally controllable and preventable disease if person gets right medical attention at right time. Prolonged exposure can cause permanent lung damage, and some amount of pulmonary functions may be lost for ever.  
If you have occupational asthma you must have an emergency asthma action plan prepared by your doctor. Emergency medicines must be available at the factory or unit.
If you have attack, ask a friend to take you to the nearest hospital emergency department or call for an emergency ambulance service.

Diagnostic tests and evaluation for occupational asthma:

During the evaluation for occupational asthma the doctor will inquire about your respiratory symptoms and type of work. He will then try to establish the relation between them. Clearly describe in detail all the symptoms and when and how frequently they occur. How they are relieved.

Also describe your job and job conditions. Chemicals and other substances you are exposed to ( like gases, dust, fumes, vapors, animal products, chemicals and other irritants).
Proper diagnosis is essential to ensure that most appropriate treatment is given.

Gold standard for the diagnosis of OA in the pulmonary laboratory is a specific inhalation challenge using the suspected agent.

Following breathing tests will be done to determine the condition of the lungs.

Spirometry: All patients with suspected occupational bronchial asthma should have and assessment to the response to bronchodilators. Spirometer is a device which measures the air flow rates in different parts of the airways.
Peak flow meters: Peak flow meter is a small portable device used to measure how forcefully a person can blow the air out of the lungs. This test can also be done at the workplace during the asthma attack.
Blood examinations including blood gas analysis during attack.
Skin test and serology: They may be used in identifying the suspected irritant. However selection and preparation of the agent for skin testing is difficult. The positive test indicates previous exposure to the agent, but cannot confirm that the same agent is responsible for the OA.
X-Ray Chest-PAV: Chest radiograph is usually done to rule out causes other than OA.

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Last edited 22-8-2010