It’s no secret that asthma is a common respiratory illness affecting millions of people in the United States every year. But what you may not know is that your job could be contributing to your asthma symptoms.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with asthma, you may have an occupational lung disease.
How is work-related asthma different from other types?
About 20 million Americans have asthma, and almost 15% of those cases are work-related. Work-related asthma is caused by exposure to airborne irritants in the workplace, such as dust, fumes, and chemicals.
Work-related asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. These symptoms may begin when you arrive at work but improve during the weekend and vacations.
For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance, but it can be a serious medical condition for others. In addition to the symptoms previously listed, it can trigger a life-threatening asthma attack in more severe cases. In the long term, work-related asthma can permanently damage the lungs and airways.
If you think you may have work-related asthma, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The first step in diagnosing work-related asthma is to take a medical history and perform a physical exam. Your doctor will also ask about your work environment and whether you have any other allergies or health conditions. They may also recommend a pulmonary function test to measure how well your lungs are working.
If your job has given you asthma, you will want to explore your options, as you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.