Controlling Asthma Triggers at Work

Many people with asthma have symptoms caused by triggers at work. This is called occupational asthma. The triggers may be allergens or irritants.

Allergens include:

  • Animal dander

  • Dust

  • Mold

Irritants include:

  • Chemicals

  • Fumes

  • Gases

  • Smoke

  • Metals

These triggers may be found around many types of work, such as:

  • Making or processing upholstery, paints, packaging, textiles, or metals

  • Farming

  • Veterinary medicine

  • Food production

The symptoms of asthma are trouble breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. These symptoms may:

  • Happen right after you are around a trigger

  • Take a while to occur

  • Lessen or go away when you are not at work

  • Go away on weekends or when you are on vacation

  • Get worse over time, even when you are not at work

People working on the floor of an industrial plant

Staying away from triggers at work

Staying away from triggers is the best way to prevent asthma. This is true even at work. If you have a lot of asthma symptoms at work, talk with your manager. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can also help you and your employer. You can get information on the ADA website or by calling the Information Line:

  • 800-514-0301 (Voice)

  • 800-514-0383 (TTY)

Talk with your employer about ways to reduce your exposure to triggers at work. These may include:

  • Changing how your work is done

  • Changing your schedule

  • Working in a different part of the company

  • Working in a different building

  • Working different hours

  • Doing a different job in the same company

You might also want to:

When you can’t control triggers

Sometimes treatment and making changes at work don't help. Then you may want to think about changing jobs. This may be very hard. But it may be the only way to not have symptoms. Before making such a major change, know all your options. Try the federal government sources listed above.

With your healthcare provider, you can:

  • Find out if something at work is causing your symptoms or making them worse.

  • Figure out how to stay away from work-related triggers, if possible.

  • Keep track of your asthma symptoms.

  • Figure out which medicines work best for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dan Brennan MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.