If you find yourself developing a killer headache when riding an elevator with someone who was a bit generous dabbing on the perfume, you have company. More than 2 million Americans have fragrance allergies or sensitivities -- and the number is on the rise.
Although that person's perfume may have been all too obvious a culprit, there are many hidden sources of fragrances, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD, medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Bassett helped WebMD sniff out the truth...
Or maybe something at work is kicking your allergies into high gear. Once you walk in the door, you can feel them getting worse.
Taking Control of Allergies at Work: Where to Start
You don’t have to let allergies make you miserable at work. You can manage allergy symptoms and improve your concentration by following these three steps:
Understand the problem of allergies at work
Identify workplace allergy triggers
Find the best allergy medicine
Stress and Work Allergies
Many patients complain of increased allergies when there’s high stress at work, says Gailen Marshall, MD, PhD, director of the division of clinical immunology and allergy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
People often think the allergy trigger is a work-related exposure. But Marshall tells WebMD that stress from work deadlines, conflicts with co-workers, and long hours can all increase allergy symptoms.
Feeling Too Tired to Work
If your allergies make you feel exhausted at work, the reason why may be more than just a bad night’s sleep.
“Blame your overactive immune system,” says Greg Martin, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care at Emory University in Atlanta. Persistent, ongoing activation of the immune system triggers chronic inflammation, and this causes fatigue, Martin tells WebMD. Here’s how it works:
Allergies are characterized by inflammation
Inflammation produces substances called cytokines
Cytokines move from our nose through the bloodstream and into our brain, causing allergy symptoms that tell us we are sick
In fact, Marshall says that fatigue is a key symptom of allergies. When allergies are poorly treated, you also get symptoms such as nasal congestion and snoring that can ruin sleep, he says.