Asthma attacks can range in severity from slight wheezing to life-threatening episodes during which the sufferer may fight desperately for breath without making a sound.
During an attack, muscle bands around the airways start to tighten; airway linings are inflamed and swell, and sticky phlegm or mucus, often causing further narrowing, is produced. The narrowing of the airways makes it difficult to breathe, as air cannot pass through properly. This causes the wheezy noise often associated with asthma, though not all sufferers wheeze.
The condition can be triggered by chest and/or airway infections (often caused by cold and flu viruses); non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, like ibuprofen or aspirin, for example; foods containing sulphites (certain food preservatives) and food allergies. Other triggers include:
- Atmospheric pollution.
- Weather conditions (high humidity, poor air quality; sudden temperature changes; cold air/wind).
Allergens like animal feathers and fur; dust mites, chemicals in flooring, carpets and cleaning materials, and damp, mouldy conditions may also trigger asthma. Sometimes, work accidents can also cause asthma.
Prolonged exposure to chemical fumes, smoke or dust can trigger asthma in workers. Miners in particular are known to be affected by asthma and other respiratory industrial conditions due to breathing in large quantities of coal and other dust, fumes and hazardous gases throughout their working life. Bakers have also been known to develop work-related illness by the continual presence of flour dust within their working environment.
Sudden exposure to large concentrations of dust, smoke or hazardous fumes or gases as a result of workplace accidents can also trigger asthma. Miners, workers in plastics manufacturing or chemicals industries and construction workers are among those most at risk of developing asthma after such accidents in the workplace. Injuries by exposure to toxic fumes, smoke or dust may be temporary or lead to life-long debilitating work-induced illness.
If you suffer asthma or another work-related condition, such as, for instance, repetitive strain injury or vibration white finger, you may be entitled to claim for work injury compensation. You must make your claim within three years of being diagnosed with asthma or any other condition caused by continual or sudden excessive exposure to irritants or vibration at work. Call the 24/7 advice line of Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 for advice and no win no fee* legal representation to make your claim for compensation.
Date Published: March 12, 2014
Author: David Brown