Hayfever hangovers: not to be sniffed at

Here's a good wheeze: next time you come into work feeling a bit worse for wear, blame it on hayfever...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

According to Lloyds pharmacy, around 1.3m UK workers – that’s almost 10% of us – will be sitting at our desks ‘hungover’ in the coming weeks, as the stratospheric pollen count plays havoc with our hayfever. Symptoms are likely to include dehydration, headaches, drowsiness and nausea – much like those who’ve spent the previous night necking margaritas and dancing on the tables of their local hostelry (but without the upside).

According to that august institution, the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at Worcester University, Monday will be the peak of the hay fever season, which it blames on ‘a combination of a wet winter and a high birch pollen count’. Apparently even people who don’t normally get the condition are likely to be struggling.

But it’s not just employees who will suffer. Using some no doubt rather tenuous calculation method, Lloyds has worked out that hayfever will cost British business a (suspiciously exact) total of £324m in lost productivity this summer – partly because we’ll be spending too much time sneezing to do our jobs properly, and partly because of sick days (it reckons hayfever is responsible for about 4m of these every year - who are these slackers?).

Surprisingly, the pharmacist pins part of the blame on the anti-histamine medicines that many sufferers take to alleviate their symptoms, which apparently make us ‘drowsy and slow off the mark’. Particularly women – more than twice as many women as men complained of hayfever hangovers, according to Lloyds, which says it wants to raise awareness of the plight of sufferers in the UK.

Predictably enough, however, this campaign (and the accompanying ‘mea culpa’ about its drugs) is not quite as selfless and noble as it may appear. Lloyds wants to flog its new battery-powered allergy relievers instead, which apparently ‘work using red light therapy to treat sensitivity in the nose and can offer long term relief with only a few minutes’ use a day’. Although if you can’t afford the £13.49 price tag, perhaps standing under a traffic light all day would also work?

MT just hopes that sufferers don’t opt for an alternative, albeit more expensive, solution – simply to go out and get drunk every night instead. At least then hayfever would be the least of your worries...

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