Occupational rhinitis and occupational asthma: Association or progression?

Am J Ind Med. 2018 Apr;61(4):293-307. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22819. Epub 2018 Feb 7.


Background: Occupational asthma is the most frequently reported occupational respiratory disease in registries, and is often co-diagnosed with occupational rhinitis. We undertook a systematic review of the English-language epidemiologic literature linking these two conditions, with emphasis on progression from occupational rhinitis to occupational asthma.

Methods: PubMed and Embase were queried in a series of structured searches designed to identify studies comparing occupational asthma and occupational rhinitis incidence or prevalence in occupationally exposed individuals.

Results: The searches yielded a total of 109 unique citations, 15 of which yielded inferential data on the occupational rhinitis-asthma relationship. Nine of fifteen studies showed statistically significant associations between the occurrence of occupational rhinitis and occupational asthma among individual workers.

Conclusions: Limited data support the notion that occupational rhinitis precedes the development of occupational asthma, particularly when high-molecular-weight (HMW) agents are involved. The relationship between the two conditions could not be evaluated in many relevant studies due to a lack of cross-tabulation of individual cases.

Keywords: epidemiology; occupational asthma; occupational rhinitis; specific inhalation challenge; united airways disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma, Occupational / epidemiology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Rhinitis / epidemiology*