Approximately 20 million employed adults suffer from allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies). If you are one of those allergy sufferers, it is important to keep in mind the safety of you and your co-workers, especially when it comes to treating your symptoms.
Allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing and fatigue impact worker performance and productivity. However, the side-effects of over-the-counter sedating antihistamines can have a much more serious impact on a work environment. According to a clinical study by the Group Health cooperative of Puget Sound, people using non-prescription sedating antihistamines are 50 percent more likely to have a work-related accident than people who use non-sedating antihistamines. Those individuals who drive or operate heavy machinery need to be particularly careful.
Sedating antihistamines can cause drowsiness and decreased driving safety. Other adverse effects include mood and motivation alterations, diminished performance of clerical tasks and altered cognitive functions. Studies have shown that equivalency rates for sedating antihistamines have been shown to be comparable to a .05 blood alcohol rate.
However, the newer non-sedating antihistamines – available only by prescription – have the potential to maximize an allergy sufferer’s efficiency and productivity by controlling symptoms without the adverse effect on alertness or performance.
If you receive a prescription for allergy symptoms or a cold or flu, be sure to ask your health care provider about the medication’s side effects and how they may impact your job performance. You also may ask your doctor if there are other treatment alternatives that have fewer effects on your job performance.
Facts about antihistamines