Asthma related to work is known as Occupational Asthma. This is due to narrowing of the respiratory tract due to allergies to Asthma agents found in the workplace. Based on the report of occupational disease statistics from the Social Security Organization (SOCSO), there were 13 cases of Asthma Occupational Disease reported in Malaysia in 2016. This accounted for nearly 3.0% of occupational diseases associated with the respiratory system.
Occupational asthma can be categorized into two:
Are symptoms of Occupational Asthma similar to other Asthma illnesses?
The symptoms of Occupational Asthma are similar to Asthma illnesses such as difficulty in breathing (Photo 1), cough, breathing sounds, chest tightness and so on.
These symptoms may occur after several days / months / years of exposure at work. However, for Occupational Asthma, this symptom is reduced if the patient is on vacation or move to another area where there is no causative agent. Hence, it is important that the patient consults Occupational Health Doctor to confirm the symptoms.
Who are the workers at risk of getting Occupational Asthma?
Examples of high-risk workers with Occupational Asthma are those exposed to pests, fungi, pollen, chemical vapor, fumes and mist, vegetable dust, metal dust (Photo 2), wood dust (Photo 3), pesticides (Photo 4) and other activities similar to that.
Prevention of Occupational Asthma Attacks
The best way to prevent Asthma attacks is to work in an environment where no Asthma agents are listed above. However, more practical control measures that can be taken as follows: -
In general, early stage of Occupational Asthma can be restored by controlling exposure to Asthma agents. However, for chronic Occupational Asthma, continuous treatment may be required despite the best efforts has been done from being exposed to Asthma causative agents.
Treatment of Occupational Asthma is similar to that of regular Asthma which is drugs and elimination of asthma agents at workplace. There are two main treatment for Occupational Asthma: -
2.Keep away from exposure to agents at workplace that may trigger Asthma attacks by:
Ministry of Health Malaysia. Asthma and Occupation. Retrieved September 28, 2018, from http://www.infosihat.gov.my/index.php/multimedia/risalah/item/Asma-dan-pekerjaan
Social Security Organization (2018). Annual Report 2016. Retrieved September 28, 2018, from https://www.perkeso.gov.my/images/laporan_tahunan/LaporanTahunan2016.pdf
Dr Arma Noor
Occupational Health Services
Date of Input: 30/10/2018 | Updated: 05/08/2019 | izzatussofia
Universiti Putra Malaysia
Selangor Darul Ehsan.