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Managing Allergies at Work

Do you space out at work due to allergy symptoms or medication?

Manage Your Work Environment to Limit Allergens continued...

If you have your own office, you can also bring in a portable filter for that space, says Charlot. "That will help a little with light allergens like pollen that hangs in the air or cat dander that hangs on clothes."

Other things to improve your office environment:

  • Ask to have carpet removed or replaced from your office or cubicle.
  • Turn on the air conditioning, which can help to clear out some allergens.
  • Avoid bringing soft items into your office, like pillows for your chair seat or collectible stuffed animals. Allergens can collect on them.
  • If you see water damage in the office, ask to have it fixed -- mold can collect there.
  • Plan your schedule carefully. If you see that the forecast is for a high pollen count, consider eating in the office cafeteria that day instead of going out to lunch. And schedule outside meetings for later in the day, as the pollen count tends to be highest in the early mornings.

If your allergies are mild, environmental measures may be enough to control your allergies at work. But people with moderate to severe allergies usually find that they need medication to control symptoms like stuffy and runny noses, sneezing, and headaches. And those medications bring with them their own side effects, and a new set of problems.

Find the Right Allergy Medication for You

"The biggest side effect with most allergy medications is drowsiness or jitteriness," says Charlot.

To avoid meandering through your workday like a zombie, first try treating individual symptoms rather than using systemic medications. For example, if congestion is what's driving you crazy, use nasal sprays. If it's watery eyes, use eyedrops like natural tears to clear the allergens from the eyes. Zaditor is another topical treatment for itchy, watery eyes that recently became over the counter.

But not all topical treatments are created equal, experts say. Over-the-counter nasal sprays like Afrin have a rebound effect. "You get even more congested when you go off of them," says Charlot.

What if the topical approach isn't working? Second- and third-generation antiallergy medications aren't as sedating as the first-generation antihistamines like Benadryl, so you may be able to battle your workday allergy symptoms without feeling doped up instead.

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