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Occupational asthma symptoms are similar to those caused by other types of asthma. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Wheezing, sometimes just at night
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Other possible accompanying signs and symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Eye irritation and tearing

Occupational asthma symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the substance you're exposed to, how long and how often you're exposed, your body's individual reaction, and other factors. Your symptoms may vary and can include symptoms that:

  • 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 right after exposure to an asthma-inducing substance at work.
  • Start after months or even years of regular exposure to an asthma-inducing 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 you have worsening symptoms. 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.

May. 19, 2011