An estimated 15 to 20 per cent of the population is allergic to one thing or another.
Here is a rundown on common allergies not necessarily related to work:
Food allergies can be mild or life-threatening, causing slight itching, runny nose, hives, earaches, nausea, diarrhea or life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. Common food allergens are peanuts, fish and shellfish.
Skin contact allergies resulting in rashes, hives and eczema can be caused by substances as diverse as poison ivy, wool, dyes in fabrics or soaps, metals in jewelry and cosmetics.
Insect stings can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Those who are allergic should carry kits for self-medicating in case of a sting.
Many airborne substances can cause allergic reactions, the most common being pollen. Over-the-counter antihistamine medications may provide relief.
For most allergies, the best treatment is to avoid the offending substance. Staying indoors during pollen season and staying somewhere else when paint and cleaning chemicals are being used are two possible strategies.
For those allergic to pets, keeping them outdoors or at least out of bedrooms will likely provide relief. Good quality filters on air circulation systems and vacuum cleaners can also help remove allergens from the air. Regular furnace and duct cleaning also helps.
The first step in dealing with an allergy is to identify the cause. Talk to your health care provider about testing for allergies if you have symptoms.