When allergies hit hard, work is probably the last place you want to be. Chances are your coworkers, while they may be sympathetic, aren’t too thrilled about your dripping nose and sneezing fits, either.
So what can you do to control allergy symptoms at work? A lot, actually, says Steven Rubinstein, M.D., chair of allergy and immunology at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Mountain View Center. But your strategies may vary depending on what you’re allergic to and when your symptoms hit. Are you reacting to airborne pollen that you whiffed while walking your dog before work? Might the bushes surrounding your office parking lot be to blame? Or is the dust piling up in your cubicle kicking your allergies into overdrive?
Sometimes it’s simple to discern what’s sparking your symptoms, but it’s not always clear-cut, especially since we tend to move through multiple environments during the day. Plus, Dr. Rubinstein says, sometimes allergens set off symptoms immediately, while other times they won’t trigger trouble until several hours later, making it difficult to identify the offending allergen. And if you’re allergic to multiple things—maybe a combo of indoor and outdoor allergens—pinpointing the issue or issues can be even trickier. Seeing an allergist can be a big help. He or she can perform a skin-prick test or other exam to root out which substances pose problems for you.