Medline ® Abstracts for References 1,2
of 'Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome and irritant-induced asthma'
Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS). Persistent asthma syndrome after high level irritant exposures.
Brooks SM, Weiss MA, Bernstein IL
Ten individuals developed an asthma-like illness after a single exposure to high levels of an irritating vapor, fume, or smoke. In most instances, the high level exposure was the result of an accident occurring in the workplace or a situation where there was poor ventilation and limited air exchange in the area. In all cases, symptoms developed within a few hours and often minutes after exposure. We have designated the illness as reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS) because a consistent physiologic accompaniment was airways hyperreactivity. When tested, all subjects showed positive methacholine challenge tests. No documented preexisting respiratory illness was identified nor did subjects relate past respiratory complaints. In two subjects, atopy was documented, but in all others, no evidence of allergy was identified. In the majority of the cases, there was persistence of respiratory symptoms and continuation of airways hyperreactivity for more than one year and often several years after the incident. The incriminated etiologic agent varied, but all shared a common characteristic of being irritant in nature. In two cases, bronchial biopsy specimens were available, and an airways inflammatory response was noted. This investigation suggests acute high level, uncontrolled irritant exposures may cause an asthma-like syndrome in some individuals which is different from typical occupational asthma. It can lead to long-term sequelae and chronic airways disease. Nonimmunologic mechanisms seem operative in the pathogenesis of this syndrome.
Diagnosis and management of work-related asthma: American College Of Chest Physicians Consensus Statement.
Tarlo SM, Balmes J, Balkissoon R, Beach J, Beckett W, Bernstein D, Blanc PD, Brooks SM, Cowl CT, Daroowalla F, Harber P, Lemiere C, Liss GM, Pacheco KA, Redlich CA, Rowe B, Heitzer J
Chest. 2008;134(3 Suppl):1S.
BACKGROUND: A previous American College of Chest Physicians Consensus Statement on asthma in the workplace was published in 1995. The current Consensus Statement updates the previous one based on additional research that has been published since then, including findings relevant to preventive measures and work-exacerbated asthma (WEA).
METHODS: A panel of experts, including allergists, pulmonologists, and occupational medicine physicians, was convened to develop this Consensus Document on the diagnosis and management of work-related asthma (WRA), based in part on a systematic review, that was performed by the University of Alberta/Capital Health Evidence-Based Practice and was supplemented by additional published studies to 2007.
RESULTS: The Consensus Document defined WRA to include occupational asthma (ie, asthma induced by sensitizer or irritant work exposures) and WEA (ie, preexisting or concurrent asthma worsened by work factors). The Consensus Document focuses on the diagnosis and management of WRA (including diagnostic tests, and work and compensation issues), as well as preventive measures. WRA should be considered in all individuals with new-onset or worsening asthma, and a careful occupational history should be obtained. Diagnostic tests such as serial peak flow recordings, methacholine challenge tests, immunologic tests, and specific inhalation challenge tests (if available), can increase diagnostic certainty. Since the prognosis is better with early diagnosis and appropriate intervention, effective preventive measures for other workers with exposure should be addressed.
CONCLUSIONS: The substantial prevalence of WRA supports consideration of the diagnosis in all who present with new-onset or worsening asthma, followed by appropriate investigations and intervention including consideration of other exposed workers.
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.