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5 min read

Coping With Hayfever In The Workplace

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to pollen and, according to the NHS, is typically worse between the months of March and September which are the warmer and more humid months.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
June 5, 2023

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to pollen and, according to the NHS, is typically worse between the months of March and September which are the warmer and more humid months. Pollen is spread throughout the air and comes into contact with the nose, mouth or eyes which for a staggering twenty per cent of the population will cause an unpleasant reaction. The most common reactions to pollen being itchy eyes, sneezing, sniffing, runny nose, coughing and wheezing. The immune system produces chemicals called histamines which are the cause of the unpleasant itching and inflammation.

Over the counter medications often help with the symptoms but for some people, you may have to seek advice from your pharmacist or GP.

Despite many people working indoors in a closed environment such as an office building, this is unfortunately no deterrent for hay fever as it drifts in through windows and attaches itself to clothes, shoes, furniture, hair - in fact it can stick to anything. Because it is carried in the air, it can become both a nuisance and inconvenience when you are trying to concentrate on your work.

A recent survey has shown that one in five employees take time off work due to hay fever in the UK and almost half of sufferers find it difficult to do their job.

There are some steps you can take to alleviate but regrettably not eradicate the risk of pollen infiltration into your place of work.

As pollen travels through the air, you may want to keep windows closed as much as you can. Most workplaces will have air conditioning systems so will keep the atmosphere cool and fresh. Of course, windows will need to be opened at times but you can time this to your advantage to minimise the pollen infiltrating through.

An air purifier can clean the air with some even claiming to remove almost one hundred per cent of harmful particles from the air so it is worth looking into if it eases your symptoms.

If windows are kept ajar see if you can sit away from the window, especially if there is a particularly heavy pollen count.

Fabrics can attract pollen so it may be wise to remove items such as cushions from your working area and if your office is carpeted or you sit by a window, see if there is an area you can move your desk to if you find this reduces your symptoms. Hopefully the carpets or flooring are vacuumed daily and desks cleaned appropriately but if this is not the case, speak to your manager who may be able to educate the cleaning team on stricter cleaning procedures.

As the warmer weather approaches, there is nothing nicer than hanging laundry out to dry instead of using the tumble dryer. However, the pollen can attach itself to your fresh clothes and then be brought inside so be extra vigilant with this and avoid line drying if pollen count is high. You wouldn’t want to be unwittingly taking pollen into work with you!

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