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. Many substances in the workplace can trigger asthma symptoms, leading to occupational asthma. The most common triggers are wood dust, grain dust, animal dander, fungi, or chemicals. 84 subjects (4%) out of 2,065 subjects reported occupational asthma in Sweden. This increased to 13% among those with asthma (45 of 350 subjects). Adjusting for covariates, occupations at high risk for asthma were associated with disability (prevalence ratio [PR] 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1 to 3.0), as was self-reported regular exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) at work (PR 1.8; 95% CI 1.1 to 3.1) and self- reported job exposure to vapors, gases, dust, or fumes (VGDF) (PR 4.3; 95% CI 2.2 to 8.6). Workplace ETS exposure was also associated with methacholine challenge-positive asthma reported to be symptomatic at work among male subjects (PR 4. 2; 95% CI 1.8 to 9.8), whereas high asthma-risk occupations were associated with this outcome among female subjects (PR 2.7; 95% CI 1. 05 to 7.1).
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. Treatment will be more effective by implementing complementary actions such as education towards employers, workers, and physicians, research in order to identify new hazards and their impact on workers’ health and review of workplace safety and standards on an ongoing basis. This process is best informed by a comprehensive national surveillance scheme to assist in effective targeting of preventive measures. Researches are happening at European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS).