Corporate Wellness

Cold, Flu Or Allergy? Managing Allergies At Work

Dealing with cold and allergic reactions at work can be challenging. Be it during presentations or meetings—it is hard to perform at your best when you are not feeling great, here’s how UR.Life OHC can help.

By Namami
10 Mar 2023

Do you feel irritation in your nose and throat the moment you sit at your desk? Do certain areas in your workplace trigger a volley of sneezes? Whether it is dust or pollen, your office is home to many allergens. And often, allergy symptoms are confused with a cold.

A cold is a transferable upper respiratory disease that usually affects your nose, throat, sinuses, and windpipe (trachea). According to the National Institute of Health (USA), more than 200 different types of viruses can cause a cold. Among them, colds and coughs due to rhinovirus are the most common.


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However, allergens are typically harmless substances that trigger an immune response. An allergic reaction can occur if the person inhales, touches, swallows, or somehow comes into contact with an allergen. These allergic reactions can be mild or severe.


Related story: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Causes, Symptoms, And Management


How To Identify An Allergic Reaction?

Usually, a cold is caused by a virus. Nevertheless, allergies develop when your immune system reacts poorly to certain allergens. Signs of an allergic reaction include


When you are exposed to an allergen, also known as an allergy trigger, your immune system releases a variety of chemicals collectively known as histamine. This histamine release causes allergy symptoms to manifest. The most common allergens that trigger allergic reactions are:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Pet dander or fur
  • Cockroaches
  • Mold spores
  • Foods (eggs, fish, milk, nuts, wheat, soy, shellfish, and others)
  • Insect stings or bites (from wasps, bees, mosquitoes, fire ants, fleas, horseflies, and black flies, among others)
  • Medicines (penicillin, aspirin, and others)
  • Latex
  • Household chemicals
  • Metals (especially nickel, cobalt, and chromates)


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One of the key symptoms is the body reacting strongly to different allergens; while it may be able to identify some allergens and defend itself, it may also fall prey to other allergens. The severity of symptoms, as well as how long they will continue, will all depend on the amount of exposure. As a result, some individuals are sometimes able to cope with exposure to certain allergens without serious reactions. When the body may have an adverse reaction when the exposure is prolonged, continuous, or surpasses its tolerance level.


Related Story: 7 Ways You Can Avoid Getting A Cold


Tests For Allergic Reactions

Testing for allergies can be useful if you are unsure what you are sensitive to. You can expose yourself to allergens accidentally if you don't know what triggers your allergic reactions. Your doctor can suggest the most effective course of treatment once you undergo testing to determine which compounds cause your allergies. Three types of allergy tests suggested by doctors are:

1. Skin allergy testing

The most popular kind of allergy test is a skin test. This test is done in areas, such as your back or arm. Your doctor pricks your skin with an allergen that has been heavily diluted and monitors for a reaction. The skin in that area will respond if you are allergic to one of them.

However, if you take certain allergy medications, you’ll need to stop taking them a week prior to having skin allergy tests. That can be unsettling as you may get allergy symptoms when you’re not under medications. Also, if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction, your doctor may not want to risk performing a skin allergy test.


2. Blood tests

In some cases, doctors may suggest a blood test to find out what you’re allergic to. As with scratch testing, there are benefits and drawbacks to having a blood test. The benefit of blood testing for children and adults is that they can continue with their allergy medication uninterruptedly. The medicine doesn’t interfere with the accuracy of a blood test, so there’s no need for you to stop taking it ahead of time and have to deal with allergy symptoms for a week.


Related story: Doctor’s Rx For Treating Viral Fever Symptoms


3. Immunotherapy

Doctors may recommend a customised immunotherapy treatment if your test results indicate that you are sensitive to a particular allergen. Long-term injectable therapy called immunotherapy has the potential to lessen symptoms. Immunotherapy is tailored to your specific requirements based on the findings of your allergy testing.

Based on the exact substances to which you are allergic and the environmental conditions to which you are regularly exposed at work and at home, allergen extracts are made specifically for you. Following the creation of the immunotherapy, you will follow a timetable for your injections.


Related story: Dengue Fever: All You Need To Know


How To Tell If It Is An Allergy or A Common Cold?

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (USA), an average adult experiences a common cold at least twice a year. The primary way that the common cold spreads from one infected individual to another is through close personal contact or air since it is a self-limiting contagious illness.

According to the National Institute of Virology (India), the common cold and flu season in India is from July to October. Even though a common cold may be treated properly (by drinking enough fluids, getting enough rest, and using cough medicine), being sick with a runny nose, a sore throat, exhaustion, and body aches is never fun. The greatest way to prevent the common cold right now, especially in light of COVID-19's identical symptoms, is prevention.

A cold and the flu both impact the respiratory system, like allergies, and they both have some symptoms in common, like a runny nose and coughing. A significant dissimilarity is that itchiness is linked with several allergic reactions. Few points to keep in mind:

  • Eye, nose, and throat itching are typical symptoms of allergies. 
  • Symptoms of an allergy persist as long as you are exposed to the allergen, whereas a cold or the flu often subsides within two weeks.
  • Flu symptoms often include a fever, headache, exhaustion, and aches and pains in addition to being more severe than cold symptoms.
  • Nasal polyps, sinus infections, and a deviated septum are a few more disorders that cause symptoms similar to allergies.
  • Rarely do allergies result in sore throats or bodily aches. 


Related story: Fighting The Stomach Flu: Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention


Types of Allergic Reactions

Millions of rupees are wasted each year as a result of medical expenses and missed productivity due to allergic rhinitis, asthma, skin allergies, and food allergies. In India, there are thought to be 37.5 million instances of asthma alone, and according to recent studies, allergic rhinitis is also becoming more common. The quality of life is known to be impacted by symptoms like diarrhoea, severe asthma, mild rhinitis, urticaria, eczema, and hives. It may have an impact on a worker's behaviour and professional achievement. In India, severe or uncontrolled asthma affects 40–50% of adults.

Minor allergic reactions, such as hives, hay fever, or nasal congestion, may go away in a day or two with treatment such as medicine or allergy shots or they may go away on their own. Anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal severe allergic reaction that requires prompt medical attention as well as hospitalisation for observation and treatment. Even with timely medical attention, the symptoms of severe allergic responses may take several days or longer to go away. Allergic reactions can vary, and have been categorised according to their severity, triggers, and source of the condition. They include:

  • Rhinitis: Typically, allergic rhinitis peaks in adolescence and gradually improves as people get older.
  • Asthma: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA), 3,524 people died in 2019 from asthma in the United States. People with asthma can live a healthy life with asthma regular and healthy life if they follow their doctor's advice to avoid triggers and take their medications. 
  • Food allergies: The prognosis depends on the type of food allergy. Most infants and children outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, soy, and wheat. Peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish allergies are more persistent and can last a person's whole life in some cases.
  • Skin allergies: A skin rash and contact dermatitis that appears as a reaction to something irritating the skin usually clears up within a few weeks.


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UR.Life Corporate Wellness: Health Risk Assessment

Health Risk Assessments offer comprehensive screening to identify possible health issues, including allergies. Our treatment plans are holistic and we recommend appropriate changes to your lifestyle, diet and exercise routine. Click here to know more.

Health Risk Assessment offers health risk status for severe Allergies, Diabetic, Cardiac, Exercise, Sleep, Nutrition & Stress. Our recommendations are based on the risk score to control and manage health hazards, which distinguishes us from our competition. With suggestions of balanced nutritional meal plans for organisations, employees are provided with:

  • Dietary Plans
  • Nutritional Audits
  • Personalised Health Advice
  • Expert nutritionists and doctors with personalised recommendations for diet and lifestyle for optimal health.
  • Our evidence-based approach for food regimens, movement programmes, and mental health resources.

Recommendations are given based on the risk score to control and manage the risks.

  • Expert nutritionists and doctors provide personalised recommendations for diet and lifestyle for optimal health.
  • Our evidence-based approach with food regimens, movement programmes, and mental health resources sets us apart from our competitors.

Click here to learn more about our UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme and unlock better health.


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