Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by narrowing and inflammation of the bronchial airways. In the workplace, it’s becoming more and more of a problem. According to the American Lung Association, occupational asthma is the most common form of work-related respiratory disease. In the U.S., an estimated 15 to 23 percent of new adult asthma cases have been attributed to occupational exposures.

A recent article from Science Daily reports about a study that links argan powder—which is an ingredient used by the cosmetic industry to manufacture foundation products—with occupational asthma:

A small study, presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona has found the first evidence of a risk associated with the use of argan powder during the industrial production of cosmetics. Nine patients from a cosmetic factory in France were analyzed during the study. Out of the nine workers, four displayed asthma or rhinitis symptoms and had a blocked nose when handling argan powder.

Dr. Emmanuelle Penven, lead author of the study, said: “Occupational asthma can be a debilitating condition if it prevents a person from working. This study is very preliminary but does suggest an association between argan powder and occupational asthma. Our initial findings warrant further research to understand any health risks associated with the compound.”

Addressing occupational asthma

Occupational asthma is reversible; but permanent lung damage is possible from severe and protracted exposure to irritant substances. Symptoms of occupational asthma are similar to those caused by other types of asthma, which may include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms, visit a physician at a well-equipped walk-in clinic in Redwood City where you can be diagnosed for occupational asthma and receive appropriate treatment.

About asthma attacks

Many people with asthma take medicines daily to address root causes of the illness, to help manage unpleasant symptoms, and to provide some relief. If you are experiencing symptoms, you need to take asthma medication immediately to prevent the condition from exacerbating. If the symptoms don’t ease after about 20 minutes, you may already be having an asthma attack and need to visit a Redwood City urgent care clinic or another U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group facility immediately.

An asthma action plan

People with asthma are usually given an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan is designed by your doctor based on the score you garner in a peak flow meter test, which is a tool that records how forceful you can blow air from your lungs. If you follow your plan, you should then be able to quickly determine when you need to take asthma medication.

(Info from Argan Powder Found in Some Cosmetics Linked With Occupational Asthma, Science Daily, Sep. 9, 2013)