Allergies? Asthma in work place.

Patient

Q: I have been diagnosed with asthma/allergies when I was 8 years old. I don’t have medical insurance so speaking with or seeing a doctor in a short time period is not feasible. I work out almost every day in an inside gym. I also run track outside when it is warm out. I have not had to take a puff of asthma medicine or any allergies pills in quite some time. I stay away from cutting grass and perfumes etc because they aggravate my allergies and asthma.

My question is, I was given a job in an administrative building in a computer lab. (The lab is in the basement of the building) fairly cool but not freezing. I started on a Monday. I worked about 5 hours and when I got home I felt a bit week and my chest felt a bit tight. I didn’t think much of it. The next day I went in and worked another 6 hours. I sit mostly at work. This time when I left work my symptoms were a lot worse. My chest was even tighter and my sniffles were worse. I hadn’t started to wheeze but I definitely felt considerably weaker and stuffy. I’m a high energy person and most people can tell when I’m not feeling well. I know everyone would say to avoid the basement who knows what’s down there. Finding a job is hard especially one that I had been trying to get. What if any medicines could I take and would this be something a doctor would advise against because I would be in the aggravating environment so many hours a week?

Symptoms:  Chest tightness, wheezing, sniffles. feeling weak.
Doctor

A:   You probably come in contact with the allergens that are responsible for your symptoms, at your work place. Air-conditioned basements usually have a high concentration of molds, due to dampness in the AC ducts. The floor carpets could be a source of dust mites and filing cabinets and paper stationery could be a source of paper dust. I suggest that you use a face mask, while at work, to prevent direct contact with the environmental allergens. You should also change your clothes immediately after returning back home from work, to get rid of any such agents sticking on to your clothes. Try sitting away from the direct blow of the AC and contact the electrical maintenance team to fix air filters (if possible). If these measures don't work effectively, try to apply/ volunteer for outdoor, field work, to keep yourself away from the current work environment. Moreover, you should fix an appointment with the Allergy Specialist of your locality, to evaluate further for your suitability for Immunotherapy (Allergy Vaccine) towards specific allergens.

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