Asthma and Work-related Asthma Developed by: Dana Hughes, RN, PhD Miners Hospital, University of Utah Libbey M. Chuy, MPH Asthma Program, Utah Department.
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Asthma and Work-related Asthma Developed by: Dana Hughes, RN, PhD Miners Hospital, University of Utah Libbey M. Chuy, MPH Asthma Program, Utah Department of Health
Overview Asthma – What is it? Symptoms of asthma What is work-related asthma? How common is work-related asthma? What substances trigger asthma? How asthma is treated? Clues that suggest asthma may be work-related What YOU can do if you have asthma
Asthma – What is It? Asthma is a chronic lung disease that obstructs airflow The obstruction is reversible It involves difficulty in breathing due to –Inflammation (swelling) –Mucus in the airways –Tightening of muscles around the airways
Symptoms of asthma Coughing Wheezing, a whistling sound Shortness of breath Chest tightness Sneezing & runny nose Itchy and inflamed eyes
What is work-related asthma? Pre-existing asthma that is triggered or made worse by exposure to one or more substances in the work-environment OR Asthma that is caused by exposure to substances in the work-environment Signs and symptoms are the same for asthma and work-related asthma
How common is asthma? About 20 million Americans currently have asthma –About 8% of Utah adults have asthma Up to 20% of all adult asthma cases maybe work-related asthma Of those diagnosed with work-related asthma: –20-27% are individuals with pre-existing asthma who react to substances in the workplace –Up to 80% develop asthma due to work-place exposures
What substances trigger asthma? Type of SubstanceExamples Air pollutants, including dusts, smoke, mists & fumes Diesel exhaust; tobacco smoke; mineral, rock, coal, & wood dusts; gases; fumes & vapors from aerosol agents, chemicals, cleaning materials, solvents, paints, welding & from heating & cooling metals quickly Pollens, mites & molds Trees, flowers, weeds, hay, plants Animal dander Birds, cats, dogs Medications Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs Foods Egg, wheat, nuts
Can asthma be cured? Asthma can be controlled (but not cured) by: –Avoiding triggers or reducing exposure to triggers –Using medication to control symptoms Medications - generally two types are used –Controller or long-term drugs Taken to prevent excess production of mucus & to reduce the inflammation and constriction of airway muscles –Rescue or quick-relief drugs Taken to relax muscles around the airways to improve breathing
Poorly controlled asthma leads to: Increased visits to –Doctor, Urgent Care Clinic or Hospital ER Hospitalizations Limitations in daily activities Lost work days Lower quality of life Death
What clues suggest that asthma is work-related? Do symptoms: –Occur only at work or regularly after a work- shift? –Improve on weekends or vacations? –Increase over the course of the work week? –Improve after changes in the work environment?
Information to share with doctor Discuss your symptoms. –When do they occur? –How often do they occur? –Time of day or week that symptoms are worse –Times you feel better –Identify Substances in the work-place to which you are exposed Current and previous jobs, hobbies, and smoking habits that may affect your lungs
What YOU can do if you have asthma? Identify and minimize contact with your asthma trigger(s) Understand and take asthma medications as prescribed Recognize early signs that your asthma is getting worse Know what to do when your asthma is getting worse