How To Prevent Occupational Asthma

Occupational Asthma is not Asthma in true sense, but a disease that closely mimics the Asthma syndrome. It results largely from the side effects of particular industries, thus making it a fit case of greater awareness and large scale prevention measures. Appropriate measures to prevent it in the first place can save a lot of trouble for the society.
How to Prevent Occupational Asthma
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Most of the diseases that mankind has to suffer are derived from nature or the inherent weaknesses and deficiencies of the body itself. However, some diseases are man-made. Occupational Asthma is also one of them.

Occupational Asthma: An Occupational Hazard

Occupational asthma refers to asthma that is caused by the occupational exposure to certain substances, to which the person gradually becomes allergic and the repeated exposure of same substance leads to asthma like disease and episodes.

However, there is one very important difference between asthma and occupational asthma, which allows some preventive measures in case of the later disease. Asthma is caused by

type I hypersensitivity reactions involving mast cells and immunoglobulin E, which react with a wide variety of allergens, and produce severe inflammation of the airways to cause symptoms. On the contrary, occupational asthma is caused by a different mechanism called type III and type IV hypersensitivity reactions which involve immunoglobulin G and M and T cells. Because of this difference, occupational asthma requires repeated exposure to the culprit substance for a long time, before the disease becomes symptomatic, and even thereafter, the reactions are limited to only a small variety of substances.

Measures to Deal with Occupational Asthma

Thus, there are possible ways which can offer some protection in preventing asthma. These prevention measures can be divided between those effective before the onset of disease and those useful after its onset.

1. Prevention before the Disease Develops

Since the development of occupational asthma requires long term frequent exposure to the substance, it leaves a window of opportunity that can be used to prevent this disease. The larger the exposure, the earlier the disease develops and smaller the exposure, longer is the safety from disease. Thus any and every measure which can reduce the exposure to injurious dust, fume and other pollutants will help.

The most important aspect of exposure in the long run is the ventilation of the place and exhaust facilities. Thus, for employers as well as the employees there are enough incentives to ensure that these facilities are up to the mark. Latest technology and willingness to adopt them can often reduce the degree of exposure substantially.


up-gradation of equipment and processes can also make a major difference to the degree of exposure. It is important for workers to raise the issue with the managers and employers and remind them the benefits of preventing the employer’s liability in case of occupational asthma.

Protective gear and masks of appropriate mesh can reduce the exposure to some degree. Other useful measures could be frequent movement outdoors, changing responsibilities and rotation of assignments which can distribute the exposure to many persons in such a way that none of them gets affected enough.

Lastly, for the employee working in a place which predisposes to occupational asthma, it is useful to keep in mind the impacts of the disease, and if offered a chance, change the job nature before it is too late. This is may not be a recommendation for every person, but those who are beginning to have some symptoms or are otherwise predisposed, may be able to prevent the onset of full scale asthma.

2. Measures after the Disease Develops

Once diagnosed with occupational asthma the primary treatment lies in limited exposure. Thus it is imperative that one tries to have a change of work-place and prevent further exposure. If it is not immediately feasible because of non-medical reasons, one need to try his or her best to minimize exposure to dust, fumes and other pollutants within the workplace, by keeping as far away from source of them, requesting for duties that entail lesser exposure, and using protective gear and masks.

In addition, to prevent the asthmatic attacks, it is preferable to take regular medicines prescribed and also keep short term quick relief medicines like Albuterol (or like medicines, with or without steroids) on person at all times, so that treatment can begin at the first sign of the attack.

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