Occupational asthma

The British Thoracic Society & Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network


  • In patients with adult onset, or reappearance of childhood asthma, healthcare professionals should consider that there may be an occupational cause
  • Adults with airflow obstruction should be asked:
    • are you better on days away from work?
    • are you better on holiday?
  • Those with positive answers should be investigated for occupational asthma
  • In suspected work-related asthma, the diagnosis of asthma should be confirmed using standard objective criteria
  • Objective diagnosis of occupational asthma should be made using serial peak flow measurements, with at least four readings per day
  • Skin prick testing or tests for specific IgE should be used in the investigation of occupational asthma
    caused by high molecular weight agents
  • A single measurement of non-specific reactivity should not be used
    for the validation of occupational asthma
  • Relocation away from exposure should occur as soon as diagnosis is
    confirmed, and ideally within 12 months of the first work-related
    symptoms of asthma

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