Occupational Asthma: Symptoms, Causes and Risks

Occupational asthma is caused by work you do, know what factors are responsible for it.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalPublished at: Jun 08, 2021
Occupational Asthma: Symptoms, Causes and Risks

There are numerous occupations around the world and they help determine the type of lifestyle we follow. Not everyone has an office job; some people go to different places, make things and repair goods which are not always healthy for health. Occupational asthma is also a by-product of these types of hazards. People inhale chemical fumes, gases, dust and other substances while doing their work. This results to allergy or immunological response which does not go well with health of the person. Hence today let us know more about occupational asthma and what are the risks involved in this.

What Is Occupational Asthma?

Occupational asthma is an asthma which is caused due breathing harmful substances because of the occupation. It is a type of occupational hazard; it is result of the work you do and the chemicals or dust particles which go with them. We have Dr. Sumeet Nigam, General Physician from Sahara Hospital, Lucknow who will tell us more about occupational asthma and how it is different from general asthma. He says it is not compulsory that one person may have occupational asthma if he words in a chemical factory or cuts wood. It is more of a trigger which can arise if not taken proper precaution.


Also Read: Asthma, Anxiety and COVID-19: How Asthmatics Can Cope With Covid Stress & Anxiety

Occupational asthma happens in people because of lack of sanitization, hygiene and kits. For every occupation there are different kits which can protect you from health hazards but in our country there are hardly some people who follow it. There is more risk of having occupational asthma if someone from your family has a history of asthma. If you are aware of it, then you should consult your doctor and take precautionary medicine if you feel slight symptoms. It is very similar to general asthma, just the cause of it changes according to occupation.

Symptoms of Occupational Asthma

Symptoms of occupational asthma are similar to that of other types of asthma. Get yourself tested if you have any of these.

  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in Chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Running nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Eye irritation and tearing

Also Read: Asthma Patients At Higher Risk Of COVID-19? Follow These Precaution Tips Given By An Expert

How to know if you have Occupational Asthma?

There are certain issues and symptoms which may arise when you have occupational asthma. There symptoms depend on the type of occupation you are into. This means there are certain conditions which can tell you if you have it or not.

  • If your asthma gets worse as your work goes further, and gets less during the weekends then it is a symptoms that is occupational asthma
  • It can occur both at work and away
  • Your symptoms may start exposing themselves as they get into an asthma-induced environment. They may even increase over period of time.
  • Continue even after exposure is no longer there. For example you left the job in a chemical company which was to provide you with jobs but still have asthma symptoms.

Causes of Occupational Asthma

There are numerous workplaces which can be said to be a possible space for having occupational asthma. However it is not possible to know about all of them. But here are some substances which can cause occupational asthma.

1# Chemicals

Paints, varnishes, adhesive, laminates, soldering resin and insulation plants are some very common places where there is a high risk of getting occupational asthma. All these chemicals are have very strong fumes and can trigger your senses. Working in such environment without a proper kit can lead to occupational asthma very quickly.

2# Animal Substances

Factories where these types of animal substances are processed or used are also at high risk of occupational asthma. Proteins found in dander, hair, scales, fur, saliva and body waste plants can make you a patient of occupational asthma. 

3# Enzymes

The enzymes which are used in detergents and flour conditioners are also a major cause of it. Those people who work here smell and intake these enzymes which are harmful for their body which leads them to occupational asthma.  


4# Plant Substances

Working in places where they use plant substances heavily to manufacture goods is also a cause of getting occupational asthma. These plants make natural rubber latex, flour, cereals, cotton, flax, hemp, wheat and papain- which is a digestive enzyme from papaya.

5# Metals

Metals like platinum, chromium and nickel sulphate have high tendency to give you asthma because of its substance and quality.

6# Respiratory irritants

Products like chlorine gas, sulphur dioxide and smoke are also very harmful for your health. Inhaling such substances can lead to various health problems including asthma. People who work in such places are more vulnerable to this disease.

Asthma caused due to these occupations and working in these places causes occupational asthma. It is caused when lungs become inflamed and causes reactions in the body and makes breathing difficult. Along with occupational asthma, lung infection can also be triggered and thus it is important to control it within time. Inhaling fumes from a lung irritant such as chlorine can trigger immediate asthma symptoms and have allergies. 

Risk Factors of Occupational Asthma

Intensity of the risk depends on the level of exposure to the hazards leading to occupational asthma. These conditions can increase the risk of having occupational asthma. It can increase if-

  • Having existing allergies or asthma- Occupation asthma can increase if you already have some lung infection or have symptoms of asthma.
  • Working around asthma triggers- Working in the environment which is contagious to substances that can trigger lung infection and problems related to it.
  • Hereditary problems of asthma- If your parents are genetic towards asthma, then it can increase your chances of having it too.
  • Smoking- Smoking is very harmful for your health and increases your risk of developing asthma if your lungs are exposed to certain irritants which are problematic. 

Also Read: What Causes Asthma Attacks? Know About Symptoms And Preventive Methods

Occupational Asthma is a type of asthma which occurs because of occupational hazards. There are certain chemicals, gases, enzymes and animal substances which can increase the risk of having occupational asthma. The severity of it depends on the exposure from the substance or work you do. It is important to know the symptoms and causes which can result in increasing the risk of this asthma. Be aware of the risk factors and consult a doctor if you observe any symptoms of occupational asthma. 

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