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Adult-Onset Asthma: The Workplace Could Be the Culprit

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Stanley Goldstein, MD, who gave his objective review of these results, agrees. "In any adult-onset asthma or re-exacerbation of asthma, there's no question that one of the things you have to look for is exacerbating events or precipitating events. Clinicians really have to gear their questions to look for occupational causes, as well as other possible causes for asthma," he says.

Goldstein, who is the director of Allergy and Asthma Care of Long Island, N.Y., tells WebMD that the highest index of suspicion should be saved for patients who work with biological entities such as animals, plants, and insects; those who work in homes, such as electricians, plumbers, and other repair workers; and people who work with chemicals. Another occupational allergen is latex, which often comes into play with health care workers, notes Goldstein, who is also a spokesperson for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Vital Information:

  • Of those who experience adult-onset asthma, about 10% of cases are a result of allergens encountered in the workplace, a number much higher than previously realized.
  • Occupational asthma can develop quickly in patients, or may take several years, making the link to the workplace more difficult.
  • People who work with biological entities (such as plants, animals, and insects), work in homes, or work with chemicals should be especially suspicious if they develop asthma as an adult.
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