Introduction: Prognosis of occupational asthma patients is not fully known.
Aims and objectives: We evaluated the work status, exposure to the asthma-causing occupational agent and asthma control about half a year after the occupational asthma diagnosis.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the patient files of the occupational asthma cases verified with specific inhalation challenge in the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health during 2011-2015. The patients who attended a control visit six months after the diagnosis were included. Asthma symptoms and results of histamine challenge and fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) were evaluated during the diagnosis and at the control visit.
Results: Altogether 102 patients attended a control visit: 2% continued working without change in occupational exposure, 21% with reduced exposure and 15% worked unexposed, 35% participated a retraining program, 15% were on sick leave, 10% were unemployed and 3% were retired. Compared to the time of the diagnosis, a decrease in hyperresponsiveness (p=0.005) and FeNO (p=0.004) and an increase in inhaled corticosteroid dose (p<0.001) was detected at the control visit. Exposure status during the control visit did not have a significant effect on these results. Asthma symptoms did not differ significantly between the two time points.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that occupational asthma patients need more support to remain in work life after the diagnosis, because 1/4 of them were not working or attending retraining program half a year after the diagnosis. In a short follow-up we did not find differences in asthma control between unexposed patients and those with continuing exposure.