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What are the symptoms of work-related asthma?

For most people, thoughts of toxic work exposure immediately turn to mesothelioma and asbestosis. While these are serious conditions with devastating repercussions, there are other toxins to be aware of in the workplace.

For example, the presence of cleaning chemicals, dust, mold, animals or plants in the workplace can lead to serious respiratory distress. Work-related asthma might not have the same level of publicity and media attention, but it can be a severe, life-threatening condition.

But how do you know if you have it?

While numerous products and factors can contribute to lung disease, they don't necessarily need to be inhaled. Repeated contact with polyurethane foam, for example, can lead to persistent coughing or shortness of breath. Additionally, work-related asthma can develop even if your workplace is well ventilated and you wear the appropriate safety gear. It is important to know the warning signs of work-related asthma.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as OSHA, has provided key questions to ask yourself:

  • Do your symptoms change when you are away from work (evenings, weekends, vacation)?
  • Did you have any unusual exposures or changes in your job processes prior to the onset of symptoms?
  • Do you have any allergy symptoms, such as runny nose, nasal congestion, or itchy, watery eyes? Are these symptoms worse at work?

Answering "yes" to any or all of these questions doesn't mean that you now suffer from work-related asthma, but it is certainly an indication that you might want to discuss your health with a medical professional. It is important to note that the onset of work-related asthma can occur well after the actual exposure. If you begin to feel ill, discuss your situation with a doctor, and then call an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about the benefits available through workers' compensation.

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