It’s OK to call out of work for this common affliction

A survey of 2,000 Americans disclosed that nearly 47% of people feel guilty about requesting days off because of their allergy symptoms.

While many are eagerly anticipating a balmy break from cuffing season, the 50 million Americans that suffer from allergies this year are likely dreading the ensuing 8 hour work days composed of constant, sneezy, watery-eyed, trips to the bathroom. Even though allergies are the sixth most common chronic illness, professionals seem to be particularly ashamed of them.


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A recent survey about allergies in the workplace

A survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by a ventilation manufacturing company called Trane, disclosed that nearly 47% of people feel guilty about requesting days off because of their allergy symptoms-so much so, that 1 in 5 respondents said that they feel more comfortable lying to their bosses about it than confessing their pollen problem. Fifty-one percent feel as though they’re allergy symptoms won’t be taken seriously enough to warrant sick days, though about 29% admit to taking more than one day off to battle their allergies in the comforts of their home. The average allergy sufferer is subjected to symptoms for about 11 days out of the month.

It should be noted that 1 and 4 of the individuals surveyed believe that their home’s air quality actually makes their symptoms worse. According to the product manager at Trane, Jay Ayers, the best way to mitigate the effects of intense allergic reactions is to address air quality. “Although allergies can be unpredictable, the most effective way to reduce indoor pollutants is by installing a good whole house allergy filter or a whole house air cleaner,” he said.

Trane addresses this potential solution in their survey, revealing 54% of sufferers are willing to invest in a humidifier or purchase an air cleanser to lessen their drippy-nosed misery.

The apparent stigma that convinces employees to weather the itchy-nasally storm at work is a particularly toxic one considering how long allergies tend to impact a sufferer’s health. Around 74% of Americans experience allergies from about January to September. Over 30% of the individuals questioned in the survey say spring is the worst in terms of symptoms, noting that April 12 is a rough day in particular.

Moreover, a Taiwan research study conducted last year found an increased risk to psychiatric disorders in individuals with allergic diseases. The researchers examined individuals with asthma, seasonal allergies and eczema alongside a constant group that had no allergies whatsoever. In conclusion: “Allergic diseases are therefore associated with a 1.66-fold increased hazard of psychiatric disorders in Taiwan.”

The severity of symptoms varies depending on the sufferer, though even the mildest case should not be dismissed as a slight inconvenience. Over half of the participants in Trane’s survey said that their allergies are the primary reason for their insomnia. This number is divided almost cleanly in half with 48% saying their runny nose, in particular, is the culprit for their sleepless nights with the rest blaming general stuffiness or other correlative factors.

If you’d rather head into work during your allergy outbreaks than make a case for your absence to your employer, it’s important to be mindful of your triggers, as previously reported by Ladders. The most common triggers include dust, humid air, pollen, tobacco smoke, and cold air.  As writer Jacqueline Mcelhone puts is, “One of the best things you can do is pay attention not only to when you’re having an allergic reaction but to what you were doing before it happened—what caused it? (Because you want to avoid these situations as much as possible in the future.)”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.