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Ann's Story

Meet Ann. Ann is a school teacher. She had work-related asthma before. Watch the video clip below to hear her story and to see how her story relates to you.

Tell us about yourself and your asthma?

My name is Ann. I am 26 years old and I have had asthma since my childhood.

I had always noticed worsening of my asthma in musty or moldy buildings. I never had any previous hay fever, I don't smoke, and I have no animals at home. But, I have a family history for asthma.

Describe to us your work environment…

I've been working as a school teacher for the last 2 years. My school building is old and, during the summer, there was a leak of water into my classroom. When I returned to work in September, after a few days I started to have a stuffy and runny nose and worsening of my asthma.

Did your condition improve after visiting your General Practitioner?

I saw my General Practitioner (GP) and received a nasal spray to help clear my nose. He advised me to use my reliever inhaler when needed for asthma symptoms. I felt better but did not recover completely.

After one month, my asthma was worsened again and I also noted an area of mould in my classroom.

I experienced more frequent wheezing and difficulty with breathing especially when I was at school, even worsened further when I was exposed to cleaning products at school or home and when dusting. I then avoided using strong cleaning products and someone else did the dusting at home.

I saw my doctor again. He conducted some tests and recommended the use of a reliever inhaler and added a regular inhaled steroid.

How helpful were the new medications?

I started to use these medications but I still continued to have the asthma symptoms. They (symptoms) were worse at work and when I was at home I had a little improvement. So, when I saw my General Practitioner (GP) again, he referred me to an asthma specialist.

Which tests did the asthma Specialist take?

I had skin tests and I had positive reactions to dust mite, dust, moulds, cat, and dog. I also had some breathing tests and asthma was confirmed.

My inhaler technique was checked and was noted to be incorrect. I was then taught to use my inhaler correctly. The incorrect technique may have made me more sensitive to the allergens and irritant exposures in the school.

The asthma specialist told me that my problem appeared to be pre-existing asthma that was exacerbated by my exposure at work to the mould, cleaning fumes and dust.

What arrangements were made for the improvement of your condition?

Arrangements were made to remove the mould in my classroom and repair the source of the water damage.

My treatment was improved by asthma education to use the correct inhaler technique.

I was advised to continue with the same medications and control my exposure to potential allergic triggers such as dust, mould and animals.

I returned to my classroom after the remediation of the area, and meanwhile my employer accommodated me to work in a different classroom with no mould or water damage.

After 1 month, the symptoms disappeared and I could gradually return to my regular activities and to work without any problems.

Ann has a tendency to allergy and it was considered likely that her response to the mould was not specific to her work environment and was on the basis of work-exacerbated asthma.


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