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Could I have work-related asthma?

Work-related asthma is a condition that many people have never heard of. Most people think of asthma as a congenital medical condition. It is true that some people are born with asthma, but other people develop it later in life.

One way to develop asthma is by working at a location that exposes you to certain substances including chemicals, dust, mold or animals. If you have been exposed to any of these things on the job, it is possible to develop work-related asthma.

Understanding workplace asthma

Work-related asthma can develop over any period, from a few days to a few years. While asthma may not sound like the most serious ailment, it can in fact cause serious issues like lung damage, disability and even death. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) does have certain regulations that are meant to protect workers who may be exposed to the substances that cause asthma. Employers are supposed to follow these regulations, but not all do. Even in workplaces that have protections in place like ventilators or respirators, it is still possible to develop work-related asthma.

Diagnosing workplace asthma

Asthma is recognizable from several symptoms. These symptoms may vary in severity from person to person. Remember, asthma does not always develop immediately after exposure to harmful substances: It sometimes does not manifest until years later.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • A whistling sound when breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping because of breathing issues

What to do if you have work-related asthma

If you believe that you may have workplace asthma, the first thing that you should do is go to a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. Then, you may wish to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. Employees who have developed work-related asthma also have legal options. It may be possible to receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for your condition.

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