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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 HEPA filter for that space, says Charlot. "This will help remove allergens such as pet dander and pollen which tend to remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. Pet allergens can be carried into the workplace by co-workers who are pet owners and pollen can easily make its way into an office through an open window."

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. "It can be difficult to stop certain over the counter nasal sprays without experiencing worsening symptoms," says Charlot.

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