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Are You Allergic to Work?

By Christopher Schonberger

Spring is the season when most people start gushing about how “beautiful” the weather is and I just stare into the distance, watching pollen falling from trees and thinking about how bad my allergies are going to be. Still, at least I can take some refuge inside a nice air-conditioned room, which is more than can be said for people who are literally “allergic to work.”

I have always claimed I’m “allergic to work” in the same way I’ve claimed I’m “allergic to wack” and “allergic to my mom” (she cried). In other words, just for jokes. But The New York Times has a story about occupational asthma and other “workplace-related allergies,” which are estimated to be responsible for 24.5 million missed workdays nationwide annually.

So, how do you figure out if you might be suffering from work-induced allergies? It’s pretty simple: “[T]he symptoms worsen as the workday progresses, and lessen after you leave. And you feel fine on weekends and vacations.”

Feeling horrible and/or uncomfortable at work is pretty standard, but if it’s mostly physical symptoms rather than general ennui that are getting you down, it might be worth taking stock of the irritants in the area and how they might be affecting you. Dust, pet dander, and perfumes are common examples, but figuring out what is different about your work space than your living space is a good starting point.

Sickened by the Office (Really) [NYT]

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