Individuals that experience symptoms associated with occupational diseases should seek medical advice as soon as they notice symptoms. The sooner these types of diseases are diagnosed and treated the better the prognosis is for patients.
There are doctors who specialize in occupational medicine but they are very rare. Of the 800,000 physicians in the United States only 10,000 of them specialize in occupational medicine.
The first point of contact for most individuals is the family physician. This physician should do a thorough screening and can assist patients in recognizing the possibility of an occupational illness. Providing the physician with information about workplace irritants will help attain an accurate diagnosis.
Individuals should also consult the “materials supervisor” at the workplace. This person should be able to give detailed information via a “materials safety data sheet” about the types of toxic compounds found at the work site.
Occupational illnesses tend to be diagnosed infrequently however, they are responsible for approximately 860,000 illnesses annually. These illnesses lead to 60,300 deaths in the United States every year. Detecting, diagnosing and treating these diseases in the earliest stages may increase the chance of reversal and/or survival.
It is also important to be aware of dangerous substances prior to beginning a job and to ensure that proper protection is available. Prevention is the best means to avoid lung and respiratory disease and proper equipment may keep workers safe from dangerous airborne particles. Respirators, proper ventilation and other types of equipment should be provided on the job.