If something at work is affecting your asthma, you might feel that your asthma gets worse soon after starting a new job or while you are doing a particular part of your job, or that your asthma improves when you are not at work. Some common New Zealand work place triggers are:
Sometimes people who have not had asthma before can develop asthma through an allergic reaction to a substance in the workplace.
This may happen even after years of working safely with the substance.
Sometimes the allergic reaction and its symptoms don’t develop until some hours after the exposure. It is therefore often difficult to identify the workplace as the cause.
Other people develop asthma for the first time in the workplace after heavy exposure to irritants of the breathing tubes, such as welding fumes or gaseous vapours like sulphur dioxide.
The prevalence of occupational asthma is higher in smokers.
Talk about the problem with your doctor or the occupational health nurse if one visits yours workplace. The doctor will ask you to note what substances or processes you are exposed to in your work, if your symptoms worsen during each shift or if there is any improvement away from work.
They can also teach you how to use a peak flow meter. This measures how fast you can breathe out and tells you how wide your breathing tubes are. If a workplace process or substance is causing or making your asthma worse, there are several steps that you can explore with your employer to lessen the problem.
Is your asthma under control?Take the asthma control test to find out