Work-related asthma is a common condition that affects men and women
who work in a wide range of industries. Adults can develop new-onset asthma after a
latency period of months to years of exposure where they become immunologically
sensitized or after an acute exposure that causes bronchial wall damage. Adults can
also experience the aggravation of pre-existing asthma that may have developed in
childhood but becomes worse after exposure at work to respiratory irritants. Exposure
to over 300 substances., including chemicals, metals, insects, animals, plants, or fungi,
have been identified that cause new-onset asthma. There are thousands of substances,
as well as cold air or stress, that can aggravate pre-existing asthma. Guidelines have
been developed for prompt recognition and diagnosis of work-related asthma because
ongoing exposure after the onset of asthma symptoms is associated with a poorer
prognosis. Both primary and secondary prevention have a role in reducing the
occurrence and morbidity of the condition. The field has continued to advance with the
recognition of an increased number of etiological agents, an understanding of the
pathophysiology, an understanding of the prognosis and factors associated with a better
prognosis, and the initiation of work on the interaction with genetic variability.
Awareness of the disease by clinicians and the promulgation of allowable air standards
by regulatory agencies that protect against the development of asthma at work will be
essential to reduce the burden of this disease.
Keywords: Asthma, Diagnostic guidelines, Epidemiology, Prevention, Prognosis.