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Disguised as the Flu - Are Mold Allergies Affecting Office Employees?

Mold can affect anyone, whether or not they have been previously exposed to the organism. Oftentimes, the initial symptoms of mold exposure are diagnosed as the flu. Accordingly, little effort is expended in taking the necessary precautions to avoid exposure.

What is likely to cause sickness is not the accidental exposure. However, significantly more danger lies in exposure to heavy concentrations of the organism over extended periods of time. It is worth noting that fungal diseases often clear up without any interventions, but some persist and spread via the bloodstream to the entire body, with the potential to cause dire complications.

It is important to inform the workforce on the specific symptoms characterizing mold presence. Mold causes allergic and irritant symptoms which are similar to flu symptoms (coughing, sneezing, sore throat, blocked nose, sinus congestion, skin rashes, etc.). It might be beneficial to ask employees to take note of when the symptoms occur and when they subside – it is entirely possible the employee is exposed at work. However, they might suffer from the symptoms of mold exposure at their own home. A good indicator is to note if the symptoms subside during vacation time.

Your family practitioner can help

If suspicion arises, it is advisable to consult a physician. They are a proper source of guidance, as they can simply and accurately determine whether your symptoms occur as a result of a mold allergy, either by a physical examination, a blood test or a skin test. If more severe symptoms arise, such as acute asthma, lung or sinus infections or skin rashes, seeking immediate medical care is advised.

Allergy symptoms are one of the top five causes for missing workdays. However, it is worth noting that most of the symptoms can significantly reduce productivity of the employees while they are working. The key productivity busters are: 1) decreased ability to concentrate and function, 2) activity limitation, 3) decreased decision-making capacity, 4) impaired hand-eye coordination, 5) problems remembering things, 6) irritability, 7) sleep disorders, 8) fatigue.

Employers, take note of this

The key for dealing with this cause of significant productivity loss are threefold: 1) accurate diagnosis of allergens and the work environment, 2) Proper environmental controls, 3) Suitable medications for the affected individuals.