Occupational and work aggravated asthma

3) Occupational vs. work aggravated asthma

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Delayed allergic Susan is a hairdresser who has been working for three years. Her asthma has gradually got worse. She has been using many different hair dyes and this is the cause of her delayed reaction. She is now thinking of changing her job or asking her boss if she can avoid doing hair dying in future.
Non allergic Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS)
John is training as an apprentice plumber. His asthma has flared up since he started three months ago. This is partly due to the amount of extra physical work he is now doing and partly due to the symptoms associated with Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS).

  • Occurs on exposure to trigger
  • Immediate onset of symptoms after one exposure, peaking after a few hours
  • No symptoms documented prior to respiratory complaint
  • Persistent symptoms for 3 months ( cough, wheeze +/-breathlessness)
  • Airflow obstruction on breathing test
  • Non- specific bronchial hyper-responsiveness
  • No other breathing related diseases.
Work aggravated
Pre existing asthma + work aggravated Mark had asthma as a child but he has had no asthma attacks since he was a teenager. He started working in a food processing factory a few weeks ago and suddenly his asthma symptoms have returned. After seeing his GP and following some tests at the local hospital he has found out that he is hyper sensitive to some of the food colourings used at work. He may have to change jobs within the factory to avoid contacts with the food colourings.
Pre existing asthma + work aggravated + occupational asthma Jane is working as a part time nurse. She has had asthma since childhood and she has been successfully managing her asthma. Recently she changed her job on the same ward from part time to full time work. This involves 12 hour shifts which are more physically demanding. At the same time a new antibacterial cleaner is being used on the ward. A combination of the’ new cleaning materials used on the ward and the increased effort required in her new shift pattern has triggered the worsening of her previously well controlled asthma. After seeing her GP she is referred to the occupational health department in the hospital. They work with her respiratory team to find a solution to Jane’s working environment, symptoms and treatment.