Occupational rhinitis: a poorly diagnosed condition

J Laryngol Otol. 2002 Aug;116(8):580-5. doi: 10.1258/00222150260171533.


The civil claim of occupational rhinitis may be difficult to prove on the balance of probabilities and is the responsibility of the claimant. There are two types of occupational rhinitis, an allergic rhinitis or a rhinitis due to irritation. Occupational rhinitis can be likened to occupational asthma. Particular attention must be paid to the relationship to alleged exposure and symptoms. Irritation causes symptoms during exposure that cease afterwards unless clinically obvious damage has occurred. Tobacco smoke and nicotine may also cause symptoms. A full examination, both externally and internally of the nose, mouth and eyes should be undertaken. The presence of squamous metaplasia is important. The validity of a claimant's symptoms must be checked against the medical records. Details of all occupations, compounds and protection should be noted. Manufacturing data on the compounds should also be obtained. The Health and Safety Executive publish occupational exposure limits for many industrial chemicals. Allergen-specific IgE may be raised when an allergy is considered to cause the occupational rhinitis. Nasal challenge tests have been used in Scandinavia to diagnose allergic occupational rhinitis. The sense of smell should be tested. There are two approaches, detecting threshold or recognition, which is suprathreshold. When present, three degrees of social effect occur: impairment, disability and handicap. The degree depends on the occupation of the individual.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Industry
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Drug Industry
  • Food Industry
  • Health Occupations
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Rhinitis / diagnosis*