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Putting Allergies Out of Work

Have allergies got you falling asleep on the job?
By
WebMD Feature

Sneezing, wheezing, and too tired to do your job? If you have allergies at work, this probably sounds familiar.

Maybe you’re up all night with miserable allergy symptoms, but you force yourself to go to work anyway. Once there, you’re so fatigued that you got nothing done -- and end up going home early.

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Maybe your allergy medications knock you out. Sure, they control your allergy symptoms, but they also zap your energy and make you inattentive on the job.

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.

Allergy medicines can also contribute to fatigue. Some of the older antihistamines -- such as Benadryl  or Dimetapp -- induce sleep in most people. Even decongestants that are stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), can change people’s sleep patterns. If you take them together, it may be easy to fall asleep but the sleep may not be as refreshing, so you can feel really tired even if you slept eight hours or more. 

Newer antihistamines such as Allegra, Claritin, or Zyrtec are less likely to cause drowsiness.

Next Article:

What Helps Your Allergies Most?