Advertisement
Guidelines for Work-Exacerbated Asthma

Guidelines for Work-Exacerbated Asthma

View our NEW Guidelines Update eBook.   Work-exacerbated asthma (WEA) has been defined as preexisting or concurrent asthma that is worsened by workplace conditions. “It is widely accepted that occupation is an important risk factor for asthma,” says James G. Martin, MD. “According to epidemiologic studies, WEA occurs in about 21.5% of adults with asthma, but the problem is often under-recognized.” Many conditions can exacerbate asthma symptoms, including irritant chemicals, dusts, second-hand smoke, and common allergens that may be present at work. Other potential causes of exacerbations can include exposure to emotional stress, worksite temperature, and physical exertion (Table). WEA cases with persistent work-related symptoms can have clinical characteristics (eg, level of severity or medication needs) and adverse socioeconomic outcomes (eg, unemployment or reduction in income) similar to those of usual occupational asthma cases. When compared with adults who have asthma unrelated to work, WEA cases: Report more days with symptoms. Seek more medical care. Have a lower quality of life. New Guidance for Physicians on Work-Exacerbated Asthma The American Thoracic Society (ATS) recently released an official statement on WEA in which medical literature on the topic was critically reviewed. Published in the August 1, 2011 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the ATS statement provides clinicians with information about the diagnosis and management of WEA. “Many different workplace factors can contribute to the exacerbation of asthma,” says Dr. Martin, who was on the ATS panel that developed the official statement. “The consequences of WEA are severe for patients, both in terms of quality of life and the potential for financial losses.” With regard to diagnosis, the...
[ HIDE/SHOW ]