Occupational asthma (OA) is a form of work-related asthma characterized by variable airflow obstruction, airway hyperresponsiveness, and airway inflammation attributable to a particular exposure in the workplace and not due to stimuli encountered outside the workplace [1,2].
Occupational asthma accounts for approximately 10 to 25 percent of adult onset asthma [3,4]. A high degree of clinical suspicion is needed as the latency period for sensitization varies from a few months to several years, depending on several factors, including the intensity of exposure, the specific sensitizing agent, and individual susceptibility.
The definition, epidemiology, causes, and risk factors of OA are reviewed here. The pathophysiology, clinical assessment, diagnosis, and management of OA are discussed separately. (See "Occupational asthma: Pathogenesis" and "Occupational asthma: Clinical features and diagnosis".)
Several terms are used to define the various forms of work-related asthma :