How to Handle a Chronic Illness at Work
Whether it's epilepsy or peanut allergies here are some tips on who to tell, what your employer needs to know, and what people should do in case of an emergency.
Your Chronic Illness: What They Need to Know continued...
Bottom line -- help them understand what they need to do so they don't
"The things that I emphasize are a calm, demeanor, a semblance of order,
and the avoidance of panic," says Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, chair of the
board of regents for the American College of Physicians. "This is
absolutely the most valuable thing to bring to the situation.
"It's also advanced planning," he tells WebMD. "It's not the
person's personality that allows [him or her] to be calm in a frightening
situation. It's a sense of mastery, preparedness, and doing what you need to do
when it matters."
Your Chronic Illness: What They Need to Do
For chronic illnesses such as epilepsy, diabetes, and severe food allergies,
such as peanut allergies, there are specific dos and don'ts. Make sure your
co-workers understand what these rules are, so they are fully prepared when it
What should someone do if you have a seizure? Here's a list of what to do
and what not to do. Print out the following and share it with friends and
- Loosen clothing around the person's neck.
- Do not try to hold the person down or restrain her; this can result in
- Do not insert any objects in the person's mouth; this can also cause
- Reassure bystanders who may be panicking and ask them to give the person
- Remove sharp objects (glasses, furniture, and other objects) from around
the person to prevent injury.
- After the seizure, it is helpful to lay the person on his or her side to
maintain an open airway and prevent the person from inhaling any
- After many seizures, there may be confusion for a period of time and the
person should not be left alone.
- In many cases, especially if the person is known to have epilepsy, it is
not necessary to call an ambulance. If the seizure lasts longer than five
minutes, or if another seizure begins soon after the first, or if the person
cannot be awakened after the movements have stopped, someone should call an
ambulance. If you are concerned that something else may be wrong or the person
has heart disease or diabetes you should contact a doctor immediately.