How to Put Allergies Out of Work

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on February 12, 2024
2 min read

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

Maybe your allergy symptoms kept you up at night, but you need to go to work. Or perhaps you took something to feel better, and those meds knocked you out. You might even be allergic to something at your workplace.

Dust mites, pollen, and mold are common and invisible allergy triggers in the workplace. These allergens can get trapped in tightly insulated and poorly ventilated office buildings.

For some jobs, there can also be environmental triggers such as fumes that cause dizziness and make it hard to breathe.

Look for allergy triggers that may affect you. Common allergens include:

  • Aerosols
  • Chemical fumes
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cockroaches
  • Cold air
  • Dust
  • Fresh paint
  • Humid air
  • Mold and mildew
  • Perfume and scented products 
  • Pet dander 
  • Pollen
  • Tobacco smoke and wood smoke
  • Weather fronts
  • Wind

Talk to your doctor about getting tested to find out what you’re allergic to. Then you can get those things out of your work environment or find the best treatment.

Make sure your work area is well-ventilated and has proper humidity to minimize molds. It should also be dusted regularly. If you do that yourself, you may want to wear a mask during that chore.

Ask your office manager if it's possible to put in high-efficiency filters (MRV11 or MRV12) for the air system and to replace carpet in your office or cubicle. Or bring in your own portable air purifier.

What if you’re a painter or do construction work and can’t avoid your allergy triggers? Check with your doctor about your treatment.

You can manage allergy symptoms and improve your concentration on the job.

If your allergies make you feel exhausted at work, the reason may start the night before.

If your allergies aren’t under control, you can get symptoms such as nasal congestion and snoring that make it hard to sleep.

Some allergy medicines, such as some of the older antihistamines, can make you feel sleepy. Even decongestants that are stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine, can change your 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 for 8 hours or more.

Newer antihistamines are less likely to make you drowsy. Check the label. Your doctor may also recommend a nasal steroid spray or other allergy medicines that won’t make you sleepy on the job.