Hille Suojalehto1, Kirsi Karvala1
and Irmeli Lindstrm1
Medicine, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
surveillance including spirometry is periodically performed among
workers who are exposed to agents causing occupational asthma in
Finland. Surveillance has been shown to detect occupational asthma at
an earlier stage, however only a few studies have assessed its benefits.
Our aim of was to assess the role of surveillance and spirometry in
intiating occupational asthma examinations. We also evaluated the
quality of the spirometry.
retrospectively reviewed the medical files of 60 patients diagnosed
with sensitizer induced occupational asthma at the Finnish Institute of
Occupational Health in 2012-2014 and participated surveillance program.
Information about work exposure, respiratory symptoms, the occupational
or primary health care visit initiating examinations, first spirometry
and the details of the diagnosis were collected.
Altogether 11 (18%) cases were detected in medical surveillance and 49
(82%) at non-surveillance doctor's practice. The median delay from the
onset of asthma symptoms to the diagnosis was 2.2 years, it did not
differ between these groups. No case was detected based on abnormal
spirometry without respiratory symptoms. However, 5 (8%) of the
patients reported solely work related rhinitis symptoms. The spirometry
was normal in half of the cases, the quality criteria were fulfilled in
86% of the tests.
Our results support the view that spirometry for non-symptomatic
workers is not beneficial in occupational asthma surveillance and
highlight the importance of work related nasal symptoms in detecting
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