Symptoms of seasonal or year-round allergies affect as many as 60 million Americans per year External Link. Suffering from allergies can be a real problem for productivity in the workplace. Plus, your office environment can be a major contributor to respiratory problems caused by dust, mold, pollens and other airborne particulates.
How do allergies impact the workplace?
Many people find that their allergies are more severe in the spring and summer months due to the increase of in pollen in the air. It may be difficult at times to stay focused on work duties and responsibilities when dealing with sneezing, wheezing, watery eyes and stuffy noses.
It's been estimated that allergy-related absenteeism and reduced productivity cost US businesses $200 million External Link on an annual basis. Allergies take a toll on people in different ways and in different seasons, which makes allergies a major culprit for absenteeism and poor performance at work.
How can you minimize allergen exposure in the workplace?
Allergens are inevitable in the workplace — however there are some things you can do to help minimize them.
How do allergy symptoms differ from colds or COVID-19?
The symptoms of the common cold, COVID-19 and allergies can be very similar, which can make it difficult to tell the difference between them. Experts recommend speaking to your doctor about possibly needing a COVID test if you experience symptoms that aren't as common with allergies, like:
- Body aches
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of smell or taste
Encourage your employees to seek proper treatment
Many people do not know their allergies or their triggers, which can lead to a string of problems that may get worse over time. If your employees are experiencing allergies, consider recommending they get tested by a doctor. With an allergy test your employees can find out the cause of your symptoms and seek proper relief.
The most common and effective over-the-counter treatments available for pollen allergies include:
- Nasal corticosteroids. When used regularly, nose sprays like Flonase® or Nasacort® reduce nasal congestion and stop inflammation.
- Antihistamines are typically oral medications that work by preventing more histamine from being released. Some are more sedating than others, so be sure to read labels or talk to a pharmacist about the best timing to take these so drowsiness doesn't impact the workday.
There are many other types of over-the-counter and prescription allergy treatments. The best bet is to talk to a doctor about the right choice.
BeWell 24/7 is a service available exclusively to Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield members. You get real help from real people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Get answers to questions about allergies and a variety of spring and summer health-related concerns, from a health care professional. Just call Eight, Four, Four, Eight, Four, Be Well.