Occupational asthma is new-onset asthma in which the underlying cause is exposure to an agent at work. It is distinguished from work-aggravated asthma in that the individual has not had asthma previously. That is, in occupational asthma, workplace exposures cause new cases of asthma, while in work-aggravated asthma, workplace exposures provoke (or ‘trigger’) symptoms of existing asthma. Occupational asthma can be either allergic or non-allergic. Prevelance of Occupational Asthma in Hong Kong in 6-7 years age group was 7.9% and in 13-14 years age group was 10.1%.
Occupational asthma can occur in many types of workplaces, but is most commonly reported where people are working with flour and isocyanates (chemicals which are found in paints as hardening agents). Early diagnosis and management by removing any exposure to irritants in the workplace is the best way to treat occupational asthma and prevent it becoming a permanent condition. Otherwise, treatment with the usual asthma inhalers is usually effective.