Occupational Asthma (cont.)
Occupational Asthma Diagnosis
If you have had asthma symptoms and are seeking medical care afterward, your health-care provider will ask questions and perform tests to pinpoint the cause of the symptoms.
Proper diagnosis is essential to ensure that the most appropriate treatment is given. Your health-care provider should confirm and document that you have asthma before beginning treatment.
You should undergo breathing tests to determine the condition of your airways.
- Spirometry: The spirometer is a device that measures how much air you can exhale and how forcefully you can breathe out. Spirometry is a good way to see how much your breathing is impaired during an attack. This test must be done in the medical office; you may exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle or perform the tests before and after using an inhaled medication.
- Peak flow meter: This is another way of measuring how forcefully you can breathe out during an attack. This device is small and portable and can be used "in the field." This device can be very helpful. It is inexpensive and monitoring can be done at various times of the day to help detect any patterns associated with the reactive airways process.
These tests may be done at the workplace to determine how your airways react to the work environment. The tests are performed before you go to the workplace and then after you have been in the workplace for some time, and the results are compared.
- Many employers have a health worker at the workplace who can carry out these tests.
- The company's representative often will work with you and your health-care provider to determine what is causing your symptoms.
- The company should cooperate in evaluating workplace exposures as possible triggers of asthma.
There is no blood test than can pinpoint the cause of asthma.
- Your blood may be checked for signs of an infection that might be contributing to the symptoms.
- In severe attacks, it may be necessary to sample blood from an artery to determine exactly how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are present in your body.
A chest X-ray may also be taken. This is mostly to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
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