What is occupational asthma?
Occupational asthma is when someone is diagnosed with asthma due to certain substances, which are known as respiratory sensitises. This usually happens when a person is exposed to these substances for a long period of time.
Depending on the individual, the condition can take anywhere from months to years to develop. It is crucial to get treatment as soon as possible, because you could risk having a severe attack if you ignore your symptoms.
The condition is usually caused by work place substances/ respiratory sensitises, which when inhaled for a period of time can caused asthma symptoms to develop. Of course, some work placements possess more respiratory sensitises than others.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of occupational asthma are the same as any other type of asthma. The symptoms may include:
- Feeling tightness in your chest
- Difficulty in breathing
- Finding it difficult to sleep at night
- Constant coughing
If you find that you experience any of these symptoms, then you should see a doctor right away. Ignoring it will only put your health in danger. If your asthma is caused by your occupation, then you would notice these symptoms either while you at work or just after you leave work.
Another sign of asthma symptoms caused by your work is feeling better whenever you are away from your work for a longer period of time, i.e. taking time away from work.
What causes This condition?
As mentioned earlier, it is caused by respiratory sensitises, which can be found in work place area. Chemicals, such as isocyanates, are known to be one of the most common causes. This type of chemical can be found in spray paint, vanish, coating, such as paints and fibres.
This type of asthma can also be caused by working with latex rubber, dust from grains and flour, dust particles from wood, and cleaning products.
How can I manage my occupational asthma?
The best way to manage the condition would be to avoid all the respiratory sensitises in your working environment. You can request additional protection from your employer, such as face mask, to reduce the chances of breathing in dust particles.
Your employer should not allow you to work with the particles in the first place if he/she knows that the substances in the work environment are causing you to have asthma symptoms. What he/she can do for your health and safety is provide you with an extractor fan, which can help remove the particles from the area.
The safest way to protect yourself from this condition would be to not work where these triggers are present. Of course, this would have to be a decision that you need to make on your own.
Do I have to quit my job?
As just mentioned, quitting your job would depend entire on your circumstances and the severity of your asthma. You can speak to your employer about the situation and request for another role at your job.
Your employer should be willing to help you anyway they can and if you are a good employee, they most probably will try their best to keep you at the company by offering you other roles :p Don’t worry, you cannot and should not be made redundant by your employer, because of your condition.