Occupational asthma symptoms are similar to those caused by other types of asthma. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Wheezing, sometimes just at night
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Other possible accompanying signs and symptoms may include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Eye irritation and tearing
Occupational asthma symptoms depend on the substance you're exposed to, how long and how often you're exposed, and other factors. Your symptoms may:
- Get worse as the workweek progresses, go away during weekends and vacations, and recur when you return to work.
- Occur both at work and away from work.
- Start as soon as you're exposed to an asthma-inducing substance at work or only after a period of regular exposure to the substance.
- Continue after exposure is stopped. The longer you're exposed to the asthma-causing substance, the more likely you'll have long-lasting or permanent asthma symptoms.
When to see a doctor
Seek immediate medical treatment if your symptoms worsen. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening. Signs of an asthma attack that needs emergency treatment include:
- Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
- No improvement even after using short-acting bronchodilators
- Shortness of breath with minimal activity
Make an appointment to see a doctor if you have breathing problems, such as coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath. Breathing problems may be a sign of asthma, especially if symptoms seem to be getting worse over time or appear to be aggravated by specific triggers or irritants.