Tracking Work-Related Asthma - Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I find out if I have work-related asthma?
- How is work-related asthma treated?
- How does the program find out that workers have work-related asthma?
- How can work-related asthma be prevented?
1. How can I find out if I have work-related asthma?
Your health care provider can determine if your asthma is work-related. If you have been diagnosed with asthma and your symptoms are caused or worsened by work, you may have work-related asthma. A health care provider will ask you questions about your history and will probably use tests, such as pulmonary function, nonspecific and specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness, serial peak flow rates, and skin allergy to confirm the diagnosis of asthma and demonstrate a connection to work.
2. How is work-related asthma treated?
The most important treatment for work-related asthma is to stop or limit the exposures that are causing the symptoms. Studies have shown that the sooner exposures are stopped, the sooner workers recover. The medical treatment is similar to that for non-occupational asthma and may include the use of anti-inflammatory medicines such as inhaled steroids, as well as bronchodilators.
3. How does the program find out that workers have work-related asthma?
All health care providers in California are required to complete a Doctor’s First Report of Occupational Injury or Illness (DFR) (PDF) whenever they see a patient with a suspected work-related health problem. We identify all the DFRs that report work-related asthma.
4. How can work-related asthma be prevented?
The first step is to learn if substances you work with can cause asthma. Several resources listing asthma-causing substances are listed in the Related Links and Resources section of this website. Keep in mind that many additional substances at work, such as fragrances and cleaning chemicals, can trigger preexisting asthma. Eliminate the use of asthma-causing substances and use safer materials whenever possible. If alternatives are not possible, engineering controls like ventilation and personal protective equipment like gloves and goggles should be used. Training, hazard communication, and medical surveillance are also part of an effective asthma prevention program.
Tracking Work-Related Asthma main page
Occupational Health Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OHSEP) home page