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Many people with asthma have symptoms caused by triggers at work. This is called occupational asthma. The triggers may be allergens or irritants.
These triggers may be found around many types of work, such as:
Making or processing upholstery, paints, packaging, textiles, or metals
The symptoms of asthma are trouble breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. These symptoms may:
Happen right after you are around a trigger
Take a while to occur
Lessen or go away when you are not at work
Go away on weekends or when you are on vacation
Get worse over time, even when you are not at work
Staying away from triggers is the best way to prevent asthma. This is true even at work. If you have a lot of asthma symptoms at work, talk with your manager. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can also help you and your employer. You can get information at the ADA website or on the Information Line:
Talk with your employer about ways to reduce your exposure to triggers at work. These may include:
Changing how your work is done
Changing your schedule
Working in a different part of the company
Working in a different building
Working different hours
Doing a different job in the same company
You might also want to:
Make sure your workplace is as safe as possible to prevent illness and injury.
Make sure your workplace is nonsmoking and that rules are followed.
Learn as much as you can about the irritants and allergens at work.
Visit these websites for more information:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Sometimes treatment and making changes at work don't help. Then you may want to think about changing jobs. This may be very hard. But it may be the only way to not have symptoms. Before making such a major change, know all your options. Try the federal government sources listed above.
With your healthcare provider you can:
Find out if something at work is causing your symptoms or making them worse.
Figure out how to stay away from work-related triggers, if possible.
Keep track of your asthma symptoms.
Figure out which medicines work best for you.
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