Asthma is a common condition that can have a serious impact on employees’ productivity and health. In fact, the American Lung Association estimates that 7 million Americans are living with undiagnosed asthma. This number accounts for nearly half of all people who have asthma symptoms but don’t realize they do. The good news? When people with asthma get early diagnosis and treatment, their symptoms improve dramatically and absenteeism drops by as much as 80 percent!
Not all asthma is created equal.
There are many different types of asthma, and not all types of asthma are the same. Some kinds of asthma are more difficult to treat and/or prevent than others. For example:
- Asthma symptoms vary from person to person. Some people with mild cases may only experience intermittent wheezing or shortness of breath during exercise; others might have attacks that require emergency treatment several times a week.
- Some people need daily medications and frequent visits to a physician; others can manage their condition through occasional use of over-the-counter (OTC) inhalers or nebulizers, which deliver medication in liquid form through a mask placed over the mouth and nose.
- Some people have allergies as well as respiratory issues; others do not have any allergies at all but still struggle with symptoms caused by exercise or exposure to allergens like pollen and pet dander that trigger an immune response in their bodies (which can lead to inflammation).
Workplace triggers can be especially dangerous for people with asthma.
Most people with asthma can work in the majority of workplaces. However, there are some that may be more dangerous for employees with asthma than others. These include:
- Dust and mold
- Chemical or irritant exposure (e.g., cleaning products)
These triggers can be especially harmful to those who have forced breathing through their mouth because it can exacerbate these symptoms and make them feel like they’re having more trouble breathing than usual.
Asthma is often undertreated.
Asthma is often undertreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of people with asthma in the United States don’t have their condition under control.
When a person with asthma doesn’t receive proper treatment, they’re more likely to experience frequent and severe attacks. According to the CDC, an estimated 5 million workdays are lost annually due to asthma symptoms or complications from poor control of symptoms; some research estimates that number as high as 7 million days per year. In fact, hospitalizations associated with asthma are not uncommon—and can be fatal.
Asthma symptoms are associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.
According to the CDC, about 20 million American adults have asthma and it accounts for more than 70 million lost school days per year in the U.S., which equates to an average loss of $3200 per employee every year (not including medical costs). Workplace triggers include: allergies; air quality; cold weather; exercise; mold or mildew exposure; perfume/cologne use by coworkers or customers (even if they don’t wear much); smoke from cooking fires at home or in restaurants; secondhand smoke exposure at work, sanding of wood or other materials containing dust particles…and much more!
Treating and preventing people’s asthma is good for their physical and mental health and your bottom line.
Treating and preventing people’s asthma is good for their physical and mental health, which helps them stay productive at work.
Workplace asthma therapy programs pay off in better attendance and more productive workdays.
Workplace asthma therapy programs pay off in better worker attendance and more productive workdays. According to one study, people with untreated asthma are 38 percent more likely than those without it to miss work or cut back on hours due to illness or injury each year. Asthma attacks can also cause anxiety and depression, which may result in absenteeism if left untreated. By implementing comprehensive workplace asthma therapy options that include medication assistance, coaching, tracking, and education, employers can help employees stay healthy and live their fullest lives!