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Asthma Types - Occupational


Asthma Types - Some jobs can actually cause asthma.  Asthma caused by dust or fumes at work is called occupational asthma.


All jobs which cause asthma involve some kind of dust, vapour or other fumes, although often the amount you breathe in is so small that people don't expect any trouble.


The good news is that if your job is the cause of your asthma, then your asthma will disappear when you stop breathing any of the dust or fumes which caused it, provided that you and your doctors have caught and treated it early enough.


The bad news is that the longer you carry on with work which causes asthma, the more likely you are to carry on having permanent asthma even if you stop the work and completely avoid the dust, vapour or fumes.


Sadly, many people carry on working because no-one has noticed the connection with work, or because it seems impossible to leave or change jobs.  In such cases, the penalty for your health may be very severe.


However, finding out for sure is vitally important for you.  And, it might be vitally important for others as well.


Usually when a job is the reason for someone's asthma, there are other people with asthma for the same reason at the same workplace and in the same industry and that no-one has noticed the connection in them.


But remember, even if your kind of work has caused asthma in other people, asthma is a common disease and your asthma may just be the same kind which anybody can get.  That is, it might not be work related asthma at all.  Wrongly blaming your job for your asthma can have very bad effects.  Why lose your job if it is harmless and didn't cause your asthma at all ?


If people think that the work caused asthma, the expense of improving working conditions may mean there will be fewer jobs or in some cases no jobs at all.


Sadly, a diagnosis of occupational asthma seems to turn most employers off hiring you in the future.


Alternatively, they may employ you, but under the legislation compelling them to employ some disabled people, with two bad results.  One of these is that if you no longer have asthma you are wrongly labelled as disabled, and the other is that a job is denied to someone for whom this legislation was passed, a genuinely disabled person.


If your asthma always seems to get better at weekends or when you are on holidays, one explanation could be that something at work is causing it.  Dusts and fumes in a wide range of occupations, from working with animals to the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and various other common trades, can cause asthma.


Some of the causes of occupational asthma are :

Ø     Animals : mammals and insects.

Ø     Enzymes in washing detergents

Ø     Epoxy resin moulding

Ø     Flour (bakery workers)

Ø     Pharmaceutical industry (some drugs)

Ø     Phthalates, e.g. in paints

Ø     Platinum refining

Ø     Polyurethane paints and plastic moulding

Ø     Soldering (fumes from resin in soldering flux: mainly in electronics workers)

Ø     Some wood dusts

Ø     Textile dyes (reactive dyes)


Oddly enough, diesel fumes and many substances with a nasty smell don't seem to cause asthma, even though there is important evidence that they can cause allergic reactions in your nose.


If your asthma is due to your work then it should be possible to remove the cause.  The fact that you have asthma from work means that others could also get it, so the discovery could help a lot of people – including your employer.


If the asthma is discovered early, then your work environment can be improved, and the asthma treated, the result of which is usually a complete cure.


But if the occupational asthma is discovered after years of working with the offending materials, then it should get better when you no longer have breathe it in all day, but you are very likely to be left with permanent asthma, and this may be mild or severe asthma.


It is important to remember that asthma is so common that most people with asthma in a workplace have it for the same reasons as everybody else, and not because of their job.


This makes it hard to determine and discover the few people who really do have occupational asthma.


If you think that you have become affected by occupational asthma, then consult an expert on 'Occupational Asthma' as soon as possible.



At a Glance …  Occupational Asthma

Ø     Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease that makes airways (bronchial tubes) particularly sensitive to irritants, and this is characterized by difficulty in breathing.

Ø     Asthma can be caused or triggered by fumes and dust in your work place.

Ø     If your work environment is dusty or involves working with chemicals, then it is important to be on the look out for the signs of asthma in you or your co-workers and seek immediate medical attention if you believe that you have asthma.

Ø     Common early warning signs of asthma include fatigue, coughing (especially at night), wheezing, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, runny nose, and itchy throat.




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