Occupational asthma refers to a disorder of the lung, in which the materials from your place of work make your airways get inflamed and constricted. This situation leads to wheezing, breathlessness, tightness in chest and coughing.(1)
Who Is At Risk For Occupational Asthma?
The more you are exposed to the causative factors, the more it puts you at risk of developing occupational asthma. Longer the exposure more is the time required for subsiding the symptoms and abort an attack. Other risk factors, aside from prolonged exposure, involve-
Presence Of Other Existing Allergies Or Asthma- If you already have asthma or any other allergies, this might increase your risk of developing occupational asthma, if you work at such a place that involves working with such materials
If You Have A Family History Of Asthma- A family history of asthma may make you genetically vulnerable for developing this condition.
If You Work At A Place Which Involves Known Asthma Prompts- Some materials are known for causing asthma. If you work at such a place, you are more likely than not to develop occupational asthma
You Have A Habit Of Smoking- Smoking, in the long run, will put you at advanced risk of developing asthma, if and when you come in contact with any irritants.(2)
Is There A Blood Test For Occupational Asthma?
The ways to diagnose occupational asthma are the same as those for diagnosing other types of asthma. That said, additional tests may be required to determine if any chemical or substance from your workplace is triggering your asthma symptoms.
- That being done, the diagnosis of asthma requires confirmation by a pulmonary function test.
- Allergy skin prick test may also be done to determine what you are allergic to.
- A blood test may be needed to check if the reason is anything other than asthma, for your symptoms.
Other Methods Of Diagnosis For Occupational Asthma
Methods do diagnose occupational asthma are parallel to the ones that are used to diagnose other types of asthma. These may consist of lung function tests like-
Spirometry- This is a non-invasive test that will calculate your breathing wellness. This is the favored diagnosis test for asthma. You need to take deep breathes and exhale forcefully in a hose attached to the spirometer. As per the normal guidelines, if your parameters fall below normal, it may be suggestive of your airways being blocked due to inflammation, which is importantly suggestive of asthma.
Peak Flow Meter- A peak flow meter calculates how quickly you can force the air out of your lungs. The more slowly you exhale the worse is your condition. Peak flow meter would be needed to be used at specified intervals, when you are working and not-working, likewise. If the peak flow meter suggests that your breathing is enhanced when you are away from your work, it could be suggestive of occupational asthma.
Some tests are performed to identify the causes of your occupational asthma and determine your asthma-triggering substance. These may involve-
Allergy Tests- This test will determine if your skin demonstrates any allergic reaction. Purified allergy isolates will be pricked into your skin and results will be obtained. However, this test has a limited reach and cannot be used for detecting chemical allergens. They can give results for mold, dust mites, pet hair, etc.
Challenge Test- A tiny amount of presumed trigger chemical is inhaled through an aerosol inhaler and any signs for an allergic reaction are noted. Your lung functioning is tested before and after giving the aerosol to determine if your breathing is affected.(3)
A long-standing exposure to certain irritant materials, along with many other factors, increases your risk of developing asthma. Your doctor may recommend several tests to confirm the diagnosis of occupational asthma.
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