To compare and contrast the epidemiology, phenotypic manifestations, and risk factors for nonwork-related adult-onset asthma and occupational asthma from diverse literature sources published between 2010 and 2013. Adult-onset asthma is expected to occur in 3.6 cases per 1000 person-years in males and 4.6 cases per 1000 person-years in women based on pooled population studies. Occupational asthma is a prevalent asthma characteristic in individuals with new-onset asthma. Work-related variables are thought to account for up to 25% of adult asthma cases, with occupational asthma accounting for around 16% of adult-onset asthma cases. When compared to occupational asthma, the review finds that nonwork-related adult-onset asthma is a heterogeneous entity, with environmental exposure factors playing a smaller role than host factors.

Large-scale general population studies are needed to identify the similarities and differences between nonwork-related adult-onset and occupational asthma, which may allow for a better understanding of these entities and promote efforts toward holistic asthma management approaches for these asthma phenotypes.