The Cost of Allergies

Friday, April 15, 2011 - 8:48am

Sneezing season can have a big impact on worker productivity.

An estimated forty million Americans suffer from allergies, making it one of the most common chronic diseases.

Those sufferers know the sniffling and sneezing signs of the season can invade every aspect of your life.

Dr. Gary Gross is a leading allergy specialist.

He says allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and stuffy noses can lead to bigger problems in some patients.

"A lot of people have fatigue, irritability, loss of productivity, symptoms that you really don't think about when you talk about allergic rhinitis," he says.

A recent study found when pollen counts are high, workers slow down.

Productivity drops as much as 30 percent.

"They don't sleep as well at night. They may go to bed, but they wake up in the middle of the night with nasal congestion. They may be sneezing in the middle of the night, so they don't get a full night's sleep," Dr. Gross explains.

"There are some days I'm exhausted. It takes me a while to get going in the mornings," says allergy sufferer Paige Bacon.

Paige takes time out of her day just to keep her symptoms from taking over.

Three times a day she does a rinse with a special bottle.

"The one thing that kind of kept me from getting sinus infections all the times was to keep everything kind of cleaned out," she says.

Dr. Gross says chronic allergy sufferers like paige don't usually call in sick because their sniffles aren't contagious, but depending on the job, he isn't opposed to sufferers calling in sick with allergy problems.

"There isn't a doctor's note specifically for allergies, but I would feel comfortable if someone were not able to do their work, especially if they had a critical job, if they were a bus driver or an airline pilot," he says.

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