Workplace-related asthma now has clear definitions based on criteria agreed upon by the American College of Chest Physicians. The clinician should suspect occupational asthma, irritant-induced asthma, or work-aggravated asthma in adults with new-onset asthma or asthma symptoms that worsen during work, after work (late allergic response), or over the course of workdays. The possible cause should be sought, and a skin test or immunoassay should be performed, if possible, to help detect sensitization. Workup also includes objective documentation of worsening of symptoms and airway obstruction during occupational exposure. If this information is inconclusive, an inhalation challenge may be considered. Medical management is the same as for nonoccupational asthma, but cessation of exposure to the specific agent is necessary to improve long-term prognosis. Latex allergy and latex-induced asthma are becoming more common in the workplace, particularly in the healthcare field. No commercially available standard serum or skin tests are available for diagnosis. The principal treatment is avoidance of latex, which can be achieved in most cases without extensive changes to the workplace.
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