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Respir Med. 2010 Apr;104(4):497-503. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2009.11.005. Epub 2009 Nov 28.

Rhinitis in subjects with work-exacerbated asthma.

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Department of Chest Medicine, Mont-Godinne Hospital; Université Catholique de Louvain, B-5530 Yvoir, Belgium.



This study aimed at characterizing the nature, severity, and timing of nasal and ocular symptoms in subjects with work-exacerbated asthma (WEA).


Among the 363 subjects referred to a tertiary-care hospital for the investigation of work-related asthma symptoms, 105 subjects who demonstrated non-specific bronchial hyperresponsiveness to histamine, but a negative response to a specific inhalation challenge with the suspected occupational agent(s) were considered as having WEA. Their characteristics were compared with those of 172 subjects with occupational asthma (OA), ascertained by a positive response to a specific inhalation challenge.


A high proportion of subjects with WEA (83%) and OA (90%) reported at least one nasal symptom at work. Sneezing/itching and rhinorrhea were more frequent in subjects with OA (78% and 70%, respectively) than in those with WEA (61%, p = 0.004 and 57%, p = 0.038, respectively), while post-nasal discharge was more common in WEA (30%) than in OA (18%, p = 0.019). Nasal symptoms were less severe in WEA (median [25th-75th percentiles] global severity score: 4 [2-6]) as compared to OA (5 [4-7], p < 0.001). Nasal symptoms preceded less frequently those of asthma in subjects with WEA (17%) than in subjects with OA (43%, p = 0.001).


Nasal symptoms are highly prevalent in subjects with WEA, although their clinical pattern differs from that found in OA. Further investigations of the health and socio-economic impacts of upper airways symptoms in WEA are required to improve the understanding and management of this common condition.

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