You may be allergic to your work place and it may also increase your risk of heart attack
As the summer holiday season slides into distant memories, two new reports do nothing to lift our spirits by suggesting that work could be bad for your health. National charity Allergy UK estimates that at least 5.7 million people could be allergic to their workplace. Allergy UK carried out research amongst office workers, primarily allergy sufferers, to establish how commonplace ‘work fever’ is.
From nasal problems, eye conditions, dry throats, breathing difficulties, lethargy, headaches and skin irritations, 95% of those questioned had experienced one or more of these symptoms in the office. But over a quarter (27%) said their symptoms were worsened by their office environment. Worryingly, 62% of respondents had experienced itchy or watery eyes, and 27% breathing difficulties over the last year in their office. Alarmingly, over half of the group surveyed had experienced an allergic reaction whilst at work.
Maureen Jenkins, Director of Clinical Services, Allergy UK says,
Office Hot Spots
According to Allergy UK there are numerous ‘hotspots’ around the office that can have huge implications for allergy sufferers:
- Lack of ventilation: the majority of those with prevalent symptoms at work do not consider their office to be well ventilated. Of the overall sample, only 15% said their office was well ventilated.
- Carpets: 90% of office workers surveyed reported their workplace has carpeted floors, but carpets and soft furnishings can harbour house dust mite allergen.
- Bookcases: 54% said they had open bookshelves, which when you remove books or items from the shelves, could disturb any dust that has collected, and can release the allergen into the atmosphere.
- Plants: 38% have plants in the office which can harbour moulds. Moulds release spores and it is these spores that cause allergic reactions.
More worrying is research by UCL suggests that doing a stressful job in which you have little control can increase your risk of heart attack by 23%. Mika Kivimaki who lead the research commented,
How to survive the office
A number of steps are advised to avoid office allergies. These include cleaning the office regularly, ensuring good ventilation & heating that does not spread allergens, spending less time sat in one place and drinking plenty of water. As for stress – maybe find a new job?