Occupational lung disease: when should I think of it and why is it important?

Johanna Feary, Irmeli Lindstrom, Christopher C. Huntley, Rafael E. de la Hoz, Hille Suojalehto

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Exposure to toxic inhalants in the workplace has the potential to cause (in susceptible individuals) almost any major type of lung disease, such as asthma, COPD and interstitial lung diseases. Patients with occupational lung disease will often present to or will be managed by respiratory specialists without training in occupational respiratory medicine, and patients (or their clinicians) may not identify a link between their disease and their current or a past job. Without an awareness of the range of different occupational lung diseases that exist, their similarity to their non-occupational counterparts, and without directed questioning, these conditions may go unidentified. Patients with occupational lung diseases are often in lower paid work and are disproportionally affected by health inequality. Both clinical and socioeconomic outcomes generally improve if cases are identified early. This allows appropriate advice to be given about the risks of ongoing exposure, clinical management, occupational mobility and, in some cases, eligibility for legal compensation. As respiratory professionals, it is important that these cases are not missed, and if needed, are discussed with a physician with specialised expertise. Here we describe some of the most common occupational lung diseases and outline the diagnostic and treatment approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230002
JournalBreathe
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2023

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