Occupational asthma is asthma that has been caused as a direct result of working with certain harmful substances, known as respiratory sensitizers. These substances, when inhaled into the lungs over a long period of time, can cause asthma symptoms in some people. Prolonged exposure to respiratory sensitizers without adequate protection can lead to the development of severe, chronic asthma.
Occupational asthma can take a long period of time to develop and will vary depending on the substance, the amount of exposure and the age and health of the person exposed. You may develop symptoms that indicate the possibility of occupational asthma. These include symptoms that seem to be worse during the working week, whilst you are at work or after work such as breathlessness, difficulty catching your breath or asthma attacks, and symptoms which improve when you have been away from work for several days, for example when going on holiday. You may also notice nasal conditions such as sneezing, itching or a runny nose, or suffer with conjunctivitis; itchy, red and inflamed eyes.
If you are concerned you may have developed occupational asthma, you need to see your doctor and explain to them your concerns. They should refer you to a respiratory specialist, who can then assess your working conditions and your exposure to certain respiratory sensitizers. If it is then confirmed, your doctor should advise your employer to relocate you away from the respiratory sensitizers that are triggering your symptoms.
Being diagnosed with occupational asthma does not necessarily mean that you will have to leave your job, and you can discuss this with your employer, but you may feel that leaving work is the only option available to you. If this is the case you may want to investigate whether you are eligible to claim for compensation from your employer.
If you wish to discuss your personal situation further with experts in the field of industrial diseases, contact us today for professional help and advice. You can call us and speak to a member of our team on 0800 1123 256, text ‘contact’ to 80011* or select ‘Make a claim’ above.