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How to know if you have work-related asthma

Talk to your health-care provider

If you think your asthma is worse on work days or better on holidays or days when you are off work, then you should see your health-care provider and ask if you have work-related asthma. Tell your health-care provider about the work you do and the substances you are exposed to at work.

 

Things your health-care provider may do:

 

  • If you have frequent worsening of asthma at work, your health-care provider can investigate this by providing you with a peak flow meter to keep a record of your breathing, inhaler needs and symptoms on working days compared with days off work (usually recorded 4 times a day).
  • However, if your asthma has been worse only for one or a few days in total at work with some unusual exposure that will not happen again, your health-care provider may not order any specific tests. You may be able to return to work without seeing a specialist and without further difficulty.

 

Information to bring to your health-care provider

 

If you are exposed to chemicals at work then you should ask for copies of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) from your supervisor or health and safety committee. Take these sheets to your health-care provider.

 

When visiting your health-care provider, you can also bring in this information sheet to help inform your health-care provider about the diagnosis and management of work-related asthma:

 

Note: this article is an extensive article intended for health-care providers on the diagnosis and management of work-related asthma.

 

Information Sheet on WRA: Diagnosis and management of Work-Related Asthma

Specialists

Your health-care provider may refer you to a specialist (allergist, respirologist) for additional tests, such as skin tests, to check for changes in your asthma on work weeks compared with times when you are off work.

WRA Medical Tests

Testing for work-related asthma can be quite specialized and is best performed soon after the onset of your work-related symptoms, at the job that you suspect may be affecting you.

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