The disease, characterized by breathing difficulties from repeated exposure to workplace allergens, is believed to contribute to 5 percent to 15 percent of all asthma cases, the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America reports. Many cases remain undiagnosed because the symptoms are varied and oneâ€™s response to irritants is often delayed.
The signs of occupational asthma include:
- Experiencing an onset of symptoms within months of starting a job.
- Reacting to the use of a new industrial agent or process.
- Symptoms improve after leaving work or clear up on weekends or holidays.
- Symptoms worsen during certain points of production or during intense exposures to a specific particle.
- Complaining of itchy eyes, wheezing, nasal congestion or taking frequent sick days for head or chest colds.