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What're the symptoms and signs of occupational asthma?

Occupational asthma occurring in response to regular exposure to a sensitising agent in the workplace usually exhibits certain characteristic features. There is always a latent period of several weeks to many years, during which the worker is free of symptoms. Recurrent "runny nose" during working hours is common at the beginning. This is followed after a variable period by the development of coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath which increases in frequency and severity until a pattern of repeated sickness absence is established. Coughing is often the most prominent symptom, and may completely overshadow difficulty in breathing or chest tightness. Wheezing and breathlessness are surprisingly uncommon symptoms. Symptoms may develop during work hours but often do not start until a few hours after work. In some people, symptoms begin as much as 24 hours after exposure. Also, symptoms may come and go for a week or more after exposure. Thus, the link between the workplace and the symptoms is often obscured. Symptoms often become milder or disappear on weekends or over holidays. They worsen with repeated exposure.


More information on occupational asthma

What is occupational asthma? - Occupational asthma is a form of lung disease in which the breathing passages shrink, swell, or become inflamed or congested as a result of exposure to irritants in the workplace.
What causes occupational asthma? - There are many agents in the workplace that can cause occupational asthma. More than 240 causes of occupational asthma have been identified.
What're the symptoms of occupational asthma? - Symptoms and signs of occupational asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.
How is occupational asthma diagnosed? - The history reveals a pattern of worsening symptoms of occupational asthma associated with exposure to a specific agent or workplace environment.
What's the treatment for occupational asthma? - The objective of treatment for occupational asthma is to limit exposure to the allergen and improve symptoms with bronchodilator therapy.
How to prevent occupational asthma? - Reduction in exposure to the occupational trigger is the most important step to prevent occupational asthma.
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