Clearing the Air at Work: How to Identify Occupational Allergies or Asthma
VIENNA, VA, JUNE 2, 2014 – You’re back at work after a relaxing vacation, and by noon your head aches and the nagging cough returns. Is it stress? A virus? Or could you be allergic to something in the office?
“Work-related allergy and asthma symptoms are a serious problem,” says Tonya Winders, president and CEO of Allergy & Asthma Network, a leading nonprofit patient education organization, “but sometimes it’s hard to identify exactly what’s causing them. We may not realize that our lungs or eyes are being irritated by something in our workplace – and that a simple change can fix it.”
Poor indoor air quality from mold, dust, improperly maintained ventilation systems, or chemical fumes can cause breathing problems at work just as easily as they do at home. Conditions may be temporary, as with new construction, or a permanent hazard of your particular work environment. But you don’t have to suffer in silence.
If you think you may have work-related allergies or asthma, make an appointment with a board-certified allergist. Prior to the appointment, track your symptoms daily and record the following:
- Do symptoms occur just at work, and then go away when you get home?
- Are they related to a certain time of day, season, or location at work?
- Did symptoms start during or after a renovation or construction project?
- Is the ventilation and air conditioning system functioning correctly?
- Are partitions or obstructions blocking fresh air flow?
- Are there others at work with similar complaints?
“Allergists are trained to take a big picture approach,” Winders says. “Like a good detective, the allergist will combine clues from your medical history, on-the-job symptoms, a physical exam and allergy tests to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan. Don’t waste time second-guessing at the pharmacy or walk-in clinic.”
If your doctor determines you are allergic to something at work, talk with your employer about ways to reduce exposure. It could be as simple as improving ventilation around office machines, cleaning up mold in storage areas, or telecommuting until construction projects are completed.
About The Network
Allergy & Asthma Network is a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. The Network specializes in sharing family-friendly, medically accurate information through its award-winning publication Allergy & Asthma Today magazine, E-newsletter, website at www.AllergyAsthmaNetwork.org/Main and numerous community outreach programs. Follow The Network on Facebook at facebook.com/AllergyAsthmaHQ and on Twitter at twitter.com/AllergyAsthmaHQ.