Occupational asthma is a lung disorder in which substances found in the workplace cause the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow. This leads to attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. In Singapore, out of the 90 cases, 19 (21%) were females and 71 (79%) were males. There were 48 (53%) Chinese, 22 (24%) Malays, 14 (16%) Indians and 6 (7%) of other ethnic origins. The mean age at diagnosis was 35.8 +/- 9.3 yrs. The mean duration of exposure prior to onset of symptoms was 34.9 +/- 57.3 months. The most common causative agent was isocyanates (28 cases, 31%) followed by solder flux (12 cases, 13%) and welding fumes (8 cases, 9%) respectively. In 1990 there were 35 confirmed cases of occupational asthma in Singapore.
The treatment for occupational asthma is removal from the exposure. It's important that occupational asthma be diagnosed and the patient avoids further exposure, because most patients with occupational asthma will get worse over time if they remain exposed. This often means changing jobs or changing the particular duty at the workplace. Occupational asthma can be treated the same as regular asthma, with inhaled medicines called bronchodilators that open (dilate) the airways as well as inhaled anti-inflammatory medicines (glucocorticoids). However, the most important intervention is to avoid any further exposure. Respiratory masks can help reduce the amount of agent that reaches your airway but do not prevent symptoms of occupational asthma. Current researches on Occupational Asthma are happening at National Asthma Council.