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Allergies may decrease job productivity

8:35 AM, Apr 15, 2011   |    comments
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"My throat is really scratchy," allergy sufferer Tiffany Hanlon said. "My ears are really itchy."

"I have a stuffy nose, sinus pressure, sinus pain," allergy sufferer Paige Bacon said.

Dr. Gary Gross at Texas Health Dallas is a leading allergy specialist. He's talking to Hanlon, a new Texas resident and long-time allergy sufferer.

"I've had allergies for years, but definitely this is the worst I've ever had," Hanlon said.

Dr. Gross 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," Dr. Gross said.

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," Dr. Gross said. "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."

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

Bacon 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," Bacon said.

Dr. Gross says chronic allergy sufferers like Bacon don't usually call in sick because their sniffles aren't contagious. Depending on the job, however, Dr. Gross 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 [like] if they were a bus driver or an airline pilot," Dr. Gross said.

(Copyright © 2011 NBC Universal, All Rights Reserved)

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