Background: Severity of occupational asthma at diagnosis is an important prognostic factor. The aim of this study was to determine which factors affect the severity of occupational asthma with a latency period at diagnosis.
Methods: The study population consisted of 229 consecutive subjects with occupational asthma with a latency period recruited by four occupational health departments and divided into two groups according to the severity of the disease at diagnosis. The moderate-severe (FEV1 <70% predicted, or PD20 methacholine ≤300 μg; n = 101) and mild (FEV1≥70% predicted and PD20 methacholine >300 μg, n = 128) groups were compared in terms of clinical and demographic parameters. Multivariate analysis using logistic regressions was performed to examine factors associated with asthma severity.
Results: Duration of symptoms before diagnosis was significantly longer in the moderate-severe group (mean ± SD: 6.3 ± 6.8 years vs 3.4 ± 4.4 years, P < 0.001). Sex ratio, age, atopy, smoking habits, duration of exposure before symptoms, and molecular weight of the causal agent were not significantly different between the two groups. On multivariate analysis, only duration of symptoms before diagnosis was associated with asthma severity (aOR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.05–1.18, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Severity of occupational asthma with a latency period at diagnosis was associated with duration of symptoms before diagnosis, but not with the type of causal agent. This finding emphasizes the need for early diagnosis and avoidance of exposure.