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Work-Related Asthma Underdiagnosed

People seem to be worried about how disease might affect their employment, income

TUESDAY, Feb. 3, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Only 15 percent of working adults with asthma discuss with their doctor how their jobs might affect their breathing, even though nearly half have asthma that is possibly work-related, according to a study published in the February issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The researchers also found that doctors often don’t bring up the topic with patients.

The survey included 50,433 employed adults with asthma in 40 states and the District of Columbia. For 46 percent of workers with asthma, the condition appeared to be work-related, the researchers said.

“Work-related asthma is underdiagnosed and under-recognized,” lead author Jacek Mazurek, M.D., Ph.D., of the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, W.V., said in a journal news release. “A thorough occupational history is critical to first establishing a diagnosis of work-related asthma, and then putting measures in place to prevent further exposure, or to treat it,” Mazurek noted. “Unfortunately, many people may believe that nothing can be done, or may worry about losing their jobs, so are reluctant to address the topic with their doctor.”

Early testing is recommended, according to the news release. Once workplace-related asthma develops, continued exposure to job-related asthma triggers can lead to permanent lung problems, and the risk can increase the longer the exposure continues.

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