Guess how much your “mild” allergies are COSTING you?
Nobody dies from allergic rhinitis… so why should we care about people with this condition?
This sentiment is found throughout the medical community and many people pick up on this. As a result, many people are embarrassed about allergies and avoid seeking help because “it’s only allergies.”
It’s a comment I hear often… where I have patients who come in to see me in my office (my allergy office) and apologize for coming in for allergies!
While this, by itself, is frustrating, pharmaceutical companies are using this sentiment for their advantage: direct to consumer marketing and availability of over-the-counter antihistamines/nasal steroids have enabled people to get treatment (whether it’s allergy or not!) while avoiding the stigma of going to the doctor for “just allergies.”
I am here to tell you that this way of looking at allergies HAS to change (and I have math to prove it!)
If you have allergies, even if they are “mild and no big deal” I urge you to read this article… because your allergies might cost you more than you know.
Who should read this article?
I have written this article aimed at adults with allergies. Specifically, adults who “tolerate” their allergy symptoms or who feel their allergies are “not bad enough” to need care.
As a result, you should read this article:
- If you have a history of seasonal or year round allergies (even if they are mild)
- If you have “only a little hay fever” in the spring or fall
- If you have allergies, but they “aren’t that bad”
- If you take any over-the-counter antihistamine or allergy medication
If you have allergies and are being treated, you should read this to learn:
- How allergies are affecting your work and earning potential
- How allergies could be negatively impacting your work performance
Finally, if you are a boss or a manager, I HIGHLY encourage you to read this article (or at least jump down to the summary) to see how to better take care of your employees (and earn more money for the company at the same time!)
The WRONG Perception of Seasonal Allergies
I’d love to start with background or history where the whole idea of minimizing allergies began… but I’m not sure when the ‘allergies are less important’ perception happened in the community. But I can tell you a story about how my medical training taught us about allergies… in a story that goes back to 2003.
As an internal medicine resident we had daily lunchtime educational topics taught by various specialties. I was in my second year and lecture was on seasonal allergies.
The lecturer was Dr. Cox — not the smartass from Scrubs but a smart, amazing allergist who gave a great lecture on allergic vs non-allergic rhinitis (a good topic I have covered myself). It had everything important in a good lecture: it was entertaining, informative, had cat pictures (before they were the currency of the internet) and left time for questions…
…which was the problem.
At the end of the lecture, the pulmonologist stood up and said:
Well, I’m glad we now know how to fix sniffles and sneezes.
It’s the same thing I do… but then I go to the ICU and fix real medical problems.
To this day, I don’t know the background history between these two doctors.
But I know after the pulmonologist said this about 95% of the room looked at him and nodding in agreement. I, of course, was looking at the allergist and realizing that I wanted to help people with allergies instead of helping inflate my ego.
I’ve looked back on that lecture many times in my career… and each time I shake my head at the disservice that one comment caused to so many patients. This sentiment is not found only in pulmonologists or internal medicine residents… but seems common among many medical professionals.
I feel you deserve more!
If for any reason you feel unable to ask your provider about allergy care, or you feel “silly” taking time to talk about allergies… then do this right now:
and let me get you feeling your best. It will cost you 5 minutes… nothing else.
I will prove that you need to stop minimizing your allergies with 2 main arguments:
- Minimizing allergies is reducing your quality of life
- Minimizing allergies is negatively affecting your work, your promotion rate, and your success (or, put another way: minimizing your allergies is costing you money!)
Read through these three arguments below and then, in the comments or by email, let me know which ones were the most persuasive to you.
Allergies Reduce your Quality of Life
I can hear your arguments already so let me start with the most basic fact: allergies negatively affect your quality of life.
I don’t care how much you downplay it.
I don’t care how many times you say “it’s just a little hay fever.”
And if you say “well, that may be true for some people but it doesn’t affect me” then my response is: Yes, it is affecting you. You have just learned to deal with it!
Now, let me back it up. Here’s how your “its only allergies” could affect your life:
- Allergies cause a poorer quality of life in terms social functioning and mental health when compared to those without allergies.1
- Allergies cause a decrease in energy and activity level when compared to non-allergic people.1
- Almost 8 out of 10 allergy sufferers (78%) have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep due to allergies1:
- 75% of people report difficulty falling asleep
- 64% of people report waking up at night due to allergy symptoms
- 80% of people report daytime tiredness due to nasal allergies
- Untreated allergies also lead to low self esteem, shyness, depression and anxiety.2
This doesn’t apply to you… or does it?
You might feel your energy level is great…. but could it be better? You might feel you get a good night’s sleep… but what if you could be BETTER rested (come on, who doesn’t want more and better sleep??!!) And if you have depression, anxiety, or other problems… could treating allergies help?
Now, I know some of you are still skeptical. After all, you’ve lived your life like this… and medical studies don’t reflect YOUR life!
So, perhaps this is more relatable. It’s a graph of how people with allergic rhinitis explain how their allergies make them feel:
It may not seem like much, but untreated allergies cause:
- 80% of people feel tired
- 64% of people to feel irritable
- 65% of people to feel miserable
- 36% (1 out of 3 people!) to feel depressed or blue
- 23% of people with allergies feel embarrassed
Do those sound like you? Or, look at it another way: would you like to feel more rested, less irritable, less miserable, depressed or embarrassed? Because treating your allergies, even if they’re mild, can help!
Allergies Negatively Affecting your Work, your Promotion Rate, and your Success
I aimed my first argument at helping you feel better and get more out of life. This is an easy argument if you feel miserable… but some people will SWEAR that their allergies cause no problems in their life (or more correctly, you’ve compensated for your allergies in a different way).
So here’s a different argument: money.
Untreated allergies affect your work performance, productivity, and promotion rate through two different ways: absenteeism and presenteeism.
What is Absenteeism (and how does it relate to allergies)?
Absenteeism is when you miss work due to a chronic illness, in this case allergies.
On average, patients with seasonal allergies miss an average 0f 4-5 days/year of work due to allergies (with increasing days correlated with worse allergies).3,4 This costs businesses an estimated $1.69-$2.95 billion (with a B) per year.
Total, the US loses 10.7 million work days each year due to allergic rhinitis.
But that’s not what is most impressive.
Presenteeism and Allergic Rhinitis
Presenteeism is when you’re at work, but due to allergies aren’t operating at your highest capacity. Even if you never miss work due to your “mild allergies” they are causing your performance to suffer.
- Presenteeism due to allergies affects a mean of 37.7 days/year.
- If you have untreated allergies:
- You are 43% more likely to have work limitation
- You are 47% more likely to have social limitations
- You are 32% more likely to have cognitive limitations
- Symptomatic allergies also cause poor performance in word based learning and slowing in multitasking.
- In another study, 23% (1 in 4) people have a drop in productivity during their allergy season when compared to out of season.
- And if your allergies are moderate or higher, you can see a >50% impairment in your work productivity.
How does this affect you?
First, if your allergies are severe enough you are losing work days, that is costing you and your work potential earnings. No big deal… except we all know taking a lot of days off can negative affect job promotion.
But when you ARE at work and you’re giving it your 100%, your allergies are reducing your best effort to be lower than those of your non-allergy suffering peers.
Again, perhaps you’re successfully giving 100% effort. And that’s awesome. But my counter would be: could you improve what it means to be at 100%?
Think of what that could mean:
- Maybe you COULD give 120% (and not just nod as your boss demands such ridiculous expectations)
- OR maybe you could deliver the same 100%… but with 80% effort! (think of all the Facebook or Reddit you could browse!)
“Nobody dies from allergic rhinitis… so why should we care about people with this condition?” is a sentiment that many healthcare professionals believe, which has guided everyone with allergies to minimize their symptoms and, for many, avoid seeking care.
It’s time for this to change.
Untreated allergies cause a poorer quality of life including decrease in energy/activity levels, decrease in a good night’s sleep (causing increase in daytime tiredness) and can also lead to low self-esteem, shyness, depression and anxiety.
If you don’t feel allergies are affecting your quality of life that’s great! But untreated allergies also have a negative impact on your work productivity, including:
- Missing an average of 4-5 days/year costing an estimated $1.69-$2.95 billion (with a B) per year in lost revenue
- Presenteeism due to allergies 37.7 days/year resulting in:
- 43% more likely to have work limitations
- 47% more likely to have social limitations
- 32% more likely to have cognitive limitations
- Poor performance in word based learning and slowing in multitasking.
- 23% (1 in 4) people have a drop in productivity during their allergy season when compared to out of season.
But this can be fixed.
If you have allergies… no matter how minimal they are… getting them fixed can help. You can see your primary care provider, see an allergist, OR just where you will be able to:
- Email me and get a good allergy treatment plan
- Learn the best way to manage and treat your allergies
- Find the best medications to help you feel better… at the best prices
I think using me as a resource is a great next step (I’d be a bad allergist if I didn’t!). By subscribing and letting me know your symptoms I’ll be able to get you an allergist’s plan and get you feeling better.
I hope this article helped you realize that instead of minimizing your allergy symptoms, you could just fix them instead.
If you feel empowered to take control of your allergies, I recommend these next steps:
- if you haven’t done so already
- Read these next two articles:
- Share this post on your Facebook, Pinterest or other social page (if my article helped you, think how many of your friends it could help)
- Leave a comment below and tell me what part of this article resonated the most with you. I’ll reply to as many as I can and you’ll help other people feel better about getting treatment for their allergies.