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Dealing With Seasonal Allergies; How Workers Can Cope

As summer arrives, so does allergy season. And as pollen counts rise, so do the number of workers with teary eyes and runny noses.

A recent survey conducted for Kimberly-Clark Professional found that more than half (53 percent) of the allergy sufferers questioned said they would prefer scientists find a cure for allergies rather than the common cold.

But until that cure arrives, allergy sufferers have various ways of dealing with seasonal allergies. When given a choice of coping mechanisms, 38 percent of allergy sufferers said they drink lots of fluids, while 32 percent said they make sure they have tissues around at all times. Compresses around the eyes and nose were in third place, with 13 percent preferring warm ones and six percent choosing cold.

When given a list of options to improve their allergies, more than half of those surveyed said they longed for clean, fresh, allergen-free air. Nineteen percent said their bed was most likely to make them feel better and 15 percent said they would like to see a tissue with allergy medicine in it.

When asked where they would most like to go to escape their allergies, 36 percent of allergy sufferers chose a beach in Hawaii and 33 percent a mountain in Colorado. A shopping spree in Manhattan tied with a lake in Michigan at seven percent, while the vineyards of California were just behind at six percent.

Despite the discomfort caused by allergies, nearly two-thirds of sufferers said they wouldn't move or change where they worked to gain relief. Two-thirds of those surveyed said their allergies did not affect their productivity at work.

That might not be true, according to research. Approximately 35 million Americans have seasonal allergies, and increased absenteeism and reduced productivity due to allergies cost U.S. companies more than $250 million a year, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

People can take action to reduce their exposure to allergies and alleviate their symptoms, according to the AAAAI. The academy makes these suggestions:

  • Try to stay indoors between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., when pollen counts are highest.
  • Avoid yardwork or spending extended periods of time outdoors, take a shower when you come inside to remove pollen that has collected in your hair and on your skin and wash your clothing in hot water.
  • When using flowers in household decorating, choose large and bright flowers. They have larger pollens that are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Avoid using dried weeds and grasses in floral arrangements.
  • Close windows to prevent pollens and mold spores from coming indoors. Use an air conditioner to cool and clean the air.

In addition, there are many effective medications available to treat allergies. An allergist/immunologist (a specialist who treats allergies, asthma and other allergic diseases) can prescribe medication that will effectively treat your specific symptoms. The following are a few of the most common types of medications used to treat seasonal allergies:

Antihistamines - The body releases histamine as part of an allergic reaction. It can cause a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes and sneezing. Antihistamines work by preventing the effects of histamine, and can come in tablets, capsules, sprays, liquid injections and creams.

Decongestants - Allergies and colds often cause stuffy noses. Decongestants work to narrow blood vessels, which can relieve nasal congestion. Decongestants can be in pill, liquid, spray or drop form. Some antihistamines contain decongestants.

Intranasal corticosteroids - Nasal congestion is a major component of allergies. Intranasal corticosteroids come in the form of nasal sprays and they work to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, making breathing easier.

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