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.
While most allergies to foods can cause symptoms, such as hives or stomach
cramps, severe food allergies can cause anaphylaxis -- an allergic reaction
that can be severe and sometimes deadly. For you and your co-workers, this
means recognizing the symptoms of anaphylaxis, which may begin with severe
itching of the eyes, but within minutes progresses to more serious symptoms
such as those below:
- Swelling, which can cause swallowing and breathing difficulty from swollen
tissues in the throat
- Abdominal pain
- Hives, even in the throat
Immediate medical attention is needed -- have someone call 911 -- since the
condition can quickly result in an increased heart rate, sudden weakness, a
drop in blood pressure, shock, and ultimately unconsciousness or death.
If you have a severe peanut allergy -- or other food allergy -- you should
always have an epinephrine injection with you. Epinephrine is adrenaline and it
rapidly reverses the effects of anaphylaxis. Be sure your co-workers know where
you keep it in your office, and how to use it. Even when the symptoms subside,
someone should take you to the emergency room.