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.

2003 was a great year for movies… less so for allergy lectures!

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:

Sign up for MyAllergyFriend’s mailing list 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:

  1. Minimizing allergies is reducing your quality of life
  2. 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

Fix your mild allergy symptoms to enjoy more out of life
If you fix your mild allergies, you can enjoy shopping for flowers (these two clearly seem to LOVE it… because their allergies are controlled, probably)

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:

  1. Allergies cause a poorer quality of life in terms social functioning and mental health when compared to those without allergies.1
  2. Allergies cause a decrease in energy and activity level when compared to non-allergic people.1
  3. 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
  4. 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:

How allegies make you 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

Treat even mild allergies to get more out of work
Even “mild” allergies can negatively affect your work… costing you money!

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.

When you take all allergies together, productivity drops to 72% when your symptoms are at their worst.Allergy and 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!)

Summary

“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 subscribe to my mailing list where you will be able to:

  1. Email me and get a good allergy treatment plan
  2. Learn the best way to manage and treat your allergies
  3. 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.

Next Steps

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:

  1. Join MyAllergyFriend if you haven’t done so already
  2. Read these next two articles:
    1. Do you know what is REALLY causing your allergies?
    2. 11 most common causes of allergies
  3. 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)
  4. 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.

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Comments

  1. I am glad I have read ur article I do suffer with moderate to bad year round allergies that have caused me to also suffer with sinus issues. This is definitely causing my quality of life to suffer(with symptoms that u mentioned)not knowing from day to day how I am going to feel. I have seen an allergist who have prescribed several different medications. The allergist and his assistance along with my ENTs seem to across with that exact same sentiment that u discuss in ur article that this is just allergies. I had anENT tell that it is better to have multiple allergies that to have one cancer. Safe to say I know longer use that ENT. I am a sufferer who has experience my allergy problems late in life. Right now I am on Flonase, singlaur Zyrtec I am taking allergy shots, sometimes the allergy shots make me feel worst, tried reiki and even tried acupuncture. At this time nother seems to be working on regular basis which is very frustrating. I have been diagnosed with dust mite, cockaroach and grass allergens. I also include in my regimen nasal wash and saline sprays. I have mattress covers, pillow covers and have removed the carpets from the rooms.My worst time is usually when I wake up in the morning or from a nap, which brings stuffiness, watery eyes and irritability. And yes u will not die from allergies but on some days u feel like u may. The non sufferers have no idea, which creates another problem when discussing it with friends r non sufferers. Anything u could do will be greatly appreciated.

    • I like that comment “It’s better to have multiple allergies than one cancer.”

      Sure! That’s correct. And it’s better to have no allergies at all! Those types of comments always upset me and are said by many different types of doctors (I hate how many people minimize allergies… hell, that’s the whole reason I made this site!)

      I’ll PM you a plan to start getting you feeling better and see if I can provide you with some additional help.

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