Introduction Healthcare workers are exposed to wet-work and occupational hazards such as latex, cleaning products and various medication drugs which can potentially cause allergic or irritant dermatitis and work-related rhinitis and asthma. The aim of this research was to investigate the prevalence of health issues related to the skin and respiratory tract among healthcare workers in hospital.
Methods Subjects of the research were 1021 healthcare workers employed in four clinical hospitals in Zagreb, Croatia, who filled the Work Ability Index Questionnaire. Questions about current skin diseases (allergic or other rash, eczema) and respiratory diseases (chronic or recurrent infections of the respiratory tract, bronchial asthma) diagnosed by the physician were extracted and analysed.
Result Out of 1021 healthcare workers, there were 721 nurses (47 man; 674 women) and 300 physicians (134 man; 166 women). It was found that allergic dermatitis and/or eczema was present in 15% (109/721) nurses and in 15% (46/300) physicians. Prevalence of respiratory diseases among nurses was 26% (187/721), and 28% among physicians (85/300). Coexisting skin and respiratory tract symptoms were present in 8% (77/1021) healthcare workers.
Discussion In this study atopic disorders and eczema were present in a significant percentage of the workers, as well as inflammation of the respiratory tract and bronchial asthma, but it couldn’t be verified that symptoms are related to latex or other hazards. Individuals with a history of atopic disorders are at increased risk of latex allergy. According to ALAA, the estimated prevalence of latex allergy in healthcare workers varies between 8%–17%. Further research in healthcare with a focus on the use of gloves, job tasks, and prevocational exposure to latex is needed.
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