Practice ABC of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 3rd Edition

Respiratory Disorders

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1077 (Published 28 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:bmj.g1077
  1. Ira Madan1,
  2. Paul Cullinan2
  1. 1Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust and King's College London, London, UK
  2. 2National Heart and Lung Institute (Imperial College) London, UK

Embedded Image

Copyrighted Material, used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons Limited. For personal use only, must not be reproduced or shared with third parties. Anyone wishing to reproduce this content in whole or in part, in print or in electronic format, should contact digitalrightsuk@wiley.com

Browse the ABC series at www.wiley.com

Overview

  • A detailed occupational history is essential for the diagnosis of occupational respiratory disorders

  • Accurate diagnosis of the subset and cause of occupational asthma is essential for optimal management of the employee

  • Globally the incidence of pneumoconiosis and byssinosis is increasing as manufacturing industries are being established and/or outsourced to developing countries, where the standard of health and safety at work may be lower than in the developed world

  • Most occupational respiratory disorders can be prevented by reducing the exposure of employees to the causative agent

The sharp reduction in the incidence of asbestosis and pneumoconioses in industrialized countries during the past 70 years is attributable to a decline in manufacturing industries and higher health and safety standards. Asthma is now the most common occupational respiratory disorder in the developed world. By contrast, the traditional occupational lung diseases are commonly seen in developing countries, and occupational asthma is reported less often. However, the true prevalence of asthma attributable to occupation in these countries remains unknown.

Since 1989, the understanding of the epidemiology of occupational lung disease in the United Kingdom has been greatly enhanced by the Surveillance of Work-related and Occupational Respiratory Disease (SWORD), which more recently has come under the umbrella of The Health and Occupation Reporting network (THOR) (Table 1). Occupational physicians, respiratory physicians and specially trained family doctors systematically report new cases of occupational lung diseases, together with the suspected agent, industry and occupation.

View this table:
Table 1

Estimated number of new UK cases of work-related and occupational respiratory diseases reported by …

View Full Text

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial

Subscribe