Occupational asthma is an occupational lung disease and a type of asthma, but it is caused by something in the workplace environment. Asthma is an illness characterized by intermittent breathing difficulty including chest tightness, wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath. It is frequently serious and sometimes fatal. In Norway, occupational asthma is most frequently reported for bakers, spray painters, welders, sheet metal workers, hairdressers, farmers, nurses, cleaners and workers in the aluminium industry, i.e. occupations exposed to mixtures of dust, fume, gas and vapours. Up to 70 % of asthmatics have symptoms at work that improve on absence from work. The Labour Inspection Authority was only informed about such disease for 15 % of asthmatics.
Avoiding the workplace irritant that causes your symptoms is critical. However, once you become sensitive to a substance, tiny amounts may trigger asthma symptoms, even if you wear a mask or respirator. You may need medications to control your symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. Treating asthma involves both preventing symptoms and treating an asthma attack in progress. The right medication for you depends on a number of things, including your age, symptoms, asthma triggers and what seems to work best to keep your asthma under control.