For working adults, asthma attacks in the office can be distracting and can prevent productivity. Create an asthma-friendly workplace with these tips.
Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects roughly 26 million Americans, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. When exposed to an irritating trigger, the airways constrict making it difficult to breathe and can induce coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. For some, asthma can be a debilitating condition making everyday tasks difficult to accomplish. This includes working adults, who can have a difficult time being productive when asthma gets in the way. Follow these tips for creating an asthma-friendly workplace to increase your health and productivity.
Create an Asthma Action Plan
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, asthma action plans for children in schools are an important part of helping students manage their asthma. The same goes for adults in the workplace. Keeping track of triggers, peak flow readings, and medications helps keep you organized during an attack. This may also be useful for others to help during an emergency. Each asthma sufferer experiences different triggers and reactions, so it is important to keep your plan unique to you.
Organizations like the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and American Lung Association have downloadable PDF action plans that can be filled out and kept on file. Letting others know you have asthma and how they can help is also a necessary way to be asthma-ready in the workplace.
Identify Asthma Triggers
Allergy sufferers share many of the same triggers as asthma sufferers, so identifying common triggers can be beneficial for several people in the office. Some common asthma triggers are:
- Old carpet: can be moldy or harbor dust if not regularly maintained
- Cleaning supplies: industrial cleaning supplies can be irritating to the respiratory system for asthmatics
- Pet dander: a coworker whom you sit close to may have a pet at home and carry their pet hair and dander to the office
- Environmental allergens: other airborne allergens can irritate asthmatics just as much as those with allergies
- “Sick Building Syndrome”: older building construction designed for energy efficiency disregarded adequate ventilation and healthy air quality
Discuss these concerns with office and building management to help discover what options are available for creating an asthma-friendly workplace. Identifying the triggers is a good place to start when deciding what changes need to be made at the office.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
While you may not have the ability to adjust office building structures or HVAC systems, there are simpler ways of creating an asthma-friendly workplace that does not involve extensive and expensive building construction. Air quality products like humidifiers and air purifiers can make all the difference for asthmatics battling poor office air quality.
Venta’s evaporative humidifier, the Venta Airwasher, was designed for offices. Busy workdays go uninterrupted by the Airwasher’s quiet operation. Unlike traditional humidifiers that produce visible hot steam or cool mist, the Airwasher’s humidification is invisible, ensuring it never becomes a distraction in the office.
This unique feature is also an added benefit for asthmatics. Humidifiers that produce forced-moisture steam or mist can produce too much humidity, causing mold growth, a trigger for asthmatics. The Airwasher’s cold evaporation technology provides even moisture dispersal, so asthma and allergy sufferers alike can breathe easily without the danger of over-humidification.
While adding just the right amount of moisture to the air, the Airwasher naturally reduces indoor air pollutants which are trapped in the unit’s reservoir so only pure, humidified air is released back into the room. For any asthma sufferer, the Airwasher is an ideal product to have in the office.
Be Prepared with Medication
Just because a colleague uses a certain type of inhaler does not mean you should be using the same one. Consulting with your doctor for what medications are right for you is critical in managing your asthma. Keep any medication or inhaler on hand at the office in case of an attack. Just as you would let the school nurse know about your condition in case of an emergency, inform colleagues and management of your asthma.
Keep Your Office Clean
As you keep your home clean to avoid dust and other clutter build-ups, do so at the office. Schedule aside time to clean your workspace, including your keyboard and piles of paper.
If your office has a cleaning service that comes in at the end of each day, inquire about what types of cleaning supplies they use. Some industrial cleaning supplies contain chemicals that can irritate asthma and allergy sufferers. If possible, request eco-friendly or natural cleaning supplies that will not cause an asthma attack.