6 Tips for Managing Allergies in the Workplace

Allergies can strike anywhere and anytime, including in a place where you think it may not be possible: your office. This is because certain items or substances in your workplace may act as irritants that could lead to an allergic reaction.

Some of the most common irritants present in the workplace that can cause different types of allergies are:

  • Dust and dust mites
  • Mold spores
  • Fumes from cleaning products, aerosols, and other chemicals
  • Pollen
  • Scented products such as perfume and air fresheners
  • Animal dander
  • Cockroaches

Dealing With Workplace Allergies

Dealing with the symptoms of allergies while working is never easy. And missing several days of work because you have difficulties breathing and you keep sneezing or coughing is not a permanent solution.

To properly deal with workplace allergies, follow these tips:

1.     Be ready

The first step to managing workplace allergies is to know the usual causes of your allergy.

Start by taking note of the times of the year when you typically experience the usual symptoms of allergy (a runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, etc.). Identify the places where you frequently experience these symptoms as well, such as in the park, the office after it has been cleaned, or in the perfume section in the department store.

Next, see an allergist to find out what exactly is causing your respiratory allergies. This can include one of or a combination of the irritants mentioned above. Your allergist will then come up with a treatment plan that you should follow.

Since you are working, you will be given a non-sedating antihistamine. Make sure you take the prescribed medications before going to work to manage your allergy symptoms without feeling sleepy or drowsy during office hours.

2.     Clean your workspace regularly

Vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting your work area regularly will help you get rid of dust and other allergens.

However, there are certain areas and items that may not be cleaned regularly. These include:

  • The area under office furniture and heating units
  • Cubicle partitions
  • Carpets
  • Unused or rarely used office equipment
  • Plugs and cables
  • Computer cords
  • Window blinds
  • Windows and window wells

Cleaning these areas and items thoroughly requires a lot of time and certain specialized products. Ask your manager if the company can hire professional cleaners to make sure that these areas are spotless on a regular basis.

3.     Keep the office windows closed

If your workstation has or is close to a window, keep it closed. This is because pollen, smog, smoke, and other airborne allergens can enter through this window and trigger or aggravate your allergy symptoms.

You can also move your desk far away from the window if keeping the window closed is not an option.

4.     Ensure that your work area is well-ventilated

Proper ventilation and the right humidity level can minimize molds – another common irritant in workspaces. In case it tends to get humid in your workplace, request use a dehumidifier to reduce the risk of mold growth.

Additionally, find out how often the filter of the office HVAC or cooling system is replaced. Some filters need to be changed monthly, while others need replacing annually. It is important that they are changed according to schedule so that the system will circulate clean, healthy air and continue to prevent pollen from circulating in the office.

If possible, request for HEPA air filters to be installed in the HVAC or cooling system so that the quality of the air in the workplace will be cleaner and safer.

Make sure that the HVAC or cooling system is cleaned regularly as well. Dust and debris buildup inside the unit will also contribute to poor air quality in the office.

5.     Stay away from molds

In case you see molds or mildew on the ceiling or walls, do not touch them. Wear a face mask or leave the room immediately. This is because mold spores can cause and aggravate allergy symptoms.

Once you see any molds or even any signs of water damage, alert maintenance immediately. They should fix the underlying cause and remove the molds as soon as possible.

6.     Avoid other triggers

Finally, if you’re allergic to cat or dog dander, wash your hands after working with or coming in close contact with co-workers who have pets. By doing so, you will avoid transferring any pet dander to your clothes, face, or skin.

And if there are pets staying in or near the office building, stay away from them. Petting or touching them is not advisable as well.

In case you are allergic to secondhand cigarette smoke and certain types of perfume, you need to avoid them, too. Consider using a portable desktop air purifier to keep the air you breathe free from these irritants.

To continue being productive in the office and to avoid missing too many days of work because of your allergy, follow the tips above. And always bring your allergy relief medicine wherever you go.

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