Hay fever and the sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes that come with it every spring can be blamed for millions of hours in lost worker productivity, according to a new study.
Researchers at The Ohio State University studied 600 people with hay fever and found that workers afflicted with allergy symptoms missed an hour of work per week during peak spring and fall allergy seasons.
Twenty to 50 million Americans suffer from at least some symptoms related to hay fever or allergic rhinitis, said Sheryl Szeinbach, the study's lead author and a professor of pharmacy practice and administration at Ohio State, in a press release from the university.
"That means the potential loss of millions of hours of work productivity, not to mention the associated economic costs," she said, adding that some estimates suggest nearly 4 million days of missed work each year are due to allergy symptoms.
Study participants said that hay fever impacted their quality of life in general, often resulting in missed sleep and overall health problems. Patients under the care of a family physician reported more severe symptoms than those under the care of an allergist, the study said.
Szeinbach added that hay fever-like symptoms might stem from other sources, such as exposure to dust, perfume and cold air, so sufferers should have an allergy test to pinpoint the cause of and find an adequate treatment for their symptoms.