Managing Allergies At Work

Don't let allergies affect your productivity at work. Learn how to detect them through an allergy panel test and how they can be managed, especially when you’re at work.

By URLife Team
01 May 2023

Dealing with a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing and sore throat while at work can be a real hassle, and it can even impact your productivity. Symptoms of allergy vary from person to person based on allergens and an individual’s immune response. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to harmless substances, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or certain foods, which can trigger a series of symptoms.

According to a 2011 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, about 15 to 20 per cent of the Indian population suffers from allergic rhinitis (a common form of seasonal allergy). Given that India has a population of over 1.3 billion, this suggests that millions of people in India are affected by seasonal allergies, sometimes completely undetected, and this can lead to a loss of overall well-being and productivity.


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Symptoms of Allergy Reaction

Hives, Rashes and Skin Irritation

If you suddenly notice tiny bumps on your skin, which are itchy, red and swollen, then it’s a skin reaction due to some allergy. Skin reactions may appear in the form of hives, rashes or simply flat red spots on the skin.


Respiratory symptoms

While sneezing, runny nose, congestion, sore throat or difficulty breathing resemble the symptoms of the flu, that may not be the problem. These symptoms can also be caused by airborne allergens like dust mites, and pollens 

  • Sneezing is a reflex action that helps expel irritants from the nose. Sneezing is triggered when the nasal lining becomes inflamed due to an allergen.
  • Runny nose, also known as rhinorrhea, occurs when the immune system releases histamine in response to an allergen, causing the nasal passages to produce excessive mucus.
  • Allergies can cause the nasal passages to become swollen and inflamed, making it difficult to breathe through the nose. This can cause congestion, and lead to sinus pressure and headaches.
  • Allergies can cause post nasal drip, which is when excess mucus drips down the back of the throat, leading to a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Breathing problems occur when the airways become inflamed and narrowed, making it difficult to breathe.


Digestive symptoms

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain are common symptoms of food allergies. You can be allergic to food items like peanuts, dairy products, soy sauce, and mushrooms. 


Eye symptoms

Eye redness, itchiness, and watering are common symptoms of allergies. It is due to the release of histamine in the eyes, which leads to inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin, clear layer that covers the white part of the eye). These symptoms are also caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and animal dander


Related Story: Cold, Flu Or Allergy? Managing Allergies At Work


What Triggers Your Allergies At Work

A tightly insulated and poorly ventilated workplace is home to many allergens. Allergy triggers include

  • Pollen
  • Mould
  • Humid air
  • Chemical fumes
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dust


Allergy Panel Tests

Have you ever experienced an allergic reaction and didn't know what caused it? Allergy panel tests can help you identify specific allergens that trigger your allergic reactions, so you can avoid them and prevent future reactions. It is a diagnostic procedure that can identify specific allergens that trigger allergic reactions in an individual. This test involves exposing the skin to small amounts of various allergens and observing the reaction. Knowing your specific allergens can also lead to more accurate diagnoses and better treatment outcomes.


Benefits of Taking Allergy Panel Tests

  • Knowing your specific allergens can help you avoid them and prevent allergic reactions from occurring. This can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of more severe allergic reactions.
  • Allergy panel tests can help identify the underlying cause of your allergic symptoms. This can lead to a more accurate diagnosis and better treatment outcomes.
  • Allergy testing can guide allergists and immunologists in developing an individualised treatment plan that may include allergen immunotherapy or allergy shots, medications, or avoidance strategies. This will help you manage your symptoms and prevent future allergic reactions.
  • For individuals with severe allergies, allergy panel tests can help identify allergens that can trigger anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction. 


Preparing For Allergy Panel Tests

Consulting with a doctor

Before undergoing an allergy panel test, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider to discuss your symptoms, medical history, and any medications you're taking. Your doctor may also perform a physical examination to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.


Stop taking specific medications

Some medications, such as antihistamines, can interfere with allergy testing results. Your doctor may advise you to stop taking these medications for a specific period before the test. Make sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully and let them know about any prescription or over-the-counter medications or supplements you are taking.


Understanding the testing process

Allergy panel tests typically involve exposing the skin to small amounts of various allergens and observing the reaction. The test is usually done on the forearm or back and involves pricking or scratching the skin with a small needle or lancet. The results are usually available within 15-20 minutes and will show any allergic reactions to specific allergens.


Related Story: The One Ingredient That Dermatologists Swear by For Super Hydrated Skin


Consequences of Not Taking Allergy Panel Test

Continued Symptoms: If you have allergy symptoms but do not get tested, you may continue to experience these symptoms without knowing what's causing them. This can lead to unnecessary discomfort, missed work or school, and decreased quality of life.

Misdiagnosis: Without proper testing, it can be challenging to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. This can lead to misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, which can worsen symptoms and potentially cause harm.

Delayed Treatment: Delaying allergy testing can also lead to delayed treatment. This can make it harder to manage symptoms and prevent future allergic reactions. Delayed treatment can also lead to the development of chronic allergies, which can be more difficult to treat.

Increased Risk of Complications: For individuals with severe allergies, not getting tested can increase the risk of complications such as anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Without knowing the specific allergens that trigger anaphylaxis, it can be challenging to avoid them and prevent a severe reaction.


Create an Allergy-Free Workspace

  • Keep it clean: Regularly clean your workspace, including your desk, keyboard, and other surfaces. This can help reduce the buildup of dust, dirt, and other allergens.
  • Control humidity: Keep humidity levels low to prevent mold growth. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.
  • Use an air purifier: Consider using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove airborne allergens, such as pollen and dust.
  • Avoid scented products: Avoid using scented products, such as air fresheners or perfumes, which can trigger allergic reactions in some people.
  • Keep windows closed: Keep windows closed to prevent outdoor allergens from entering the workspace. If necessary, use an air conditioner to keep the air cool and dry.
  • Encourage good hygiene: Encourage good hygiene practices, such as washing hands frequently, covering sneezes and coughs, and staying home when sick.


Need all your wellness solutions in one place? A whole new world awaits just a click away.


Health should be a priority always, and at UR.Life, we help you make it one. Our Corporate Wellness programme is designed to support and lift employees so they can be healthy and their most productive selves at work. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you are able to bring your whole self to work.

With our Occupational Health Centers and Health Risk Assessment, you can find out which diagnostic tests will be best for your individual needs and get started right away. Our medical professionals ensure that routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies and certified methods ensure that you are always able to put your health first. 


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



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