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Allergies and B12D - issues with new work environment


3 weeks ago I started a new job and the smell pervading the new office makes me really sick. Within an hour of being in it I have weeping eyes; sore chest (sternum area); painful, sick-feeling stomach; tingling, numb lips; throbbing ears that feel hot inside. After 3 hours I feel dizzy and sometimes can't concentrate. It stops in minutes when I leave the building. Clearly I'm allergic to something in the office (being near air vents makes it worse).

My pins and needles (usually just in feet) have become really bad, hands and arms as well as legs and pain as well as just tingling. It keeps me awake.

Is it risky to keep exposing myself to this, will I get used to it or will I get more sick? I hate to make a fuss tho I did tell my HR rep who took it seriously and contacted the building management, who say there is nothing in the aircon (although I can smell an aircon vent from 20 feet). HR rep thought maybe fumes from cleaning elsewhere in the building are being drawn into the recycled air... I do have allergies to perfumes and cleaning products and detergent.

Has anyone had this and do you have any suggestions? I don't want to make a fuss, nobody else seems to suffer and what can they do anyway (it's a floor in a rented office block).

19 Replies

Is it ever possible to work from home. I worked in a building once that made me feel ill. Luckily I did a lot of home visits dso could escape. Something needs to change as your allergy wont

in reply to Nackapan

thanks for the reply -- I work from home at least one day a week, maybe 2. I discovered yesterday that there is a coffee area outside with a roof, that seems to be ok. So I think I'll try to go there for 1-1 meetings to clear my system of the smell. It's frightening me, though.

I would go to an allergist and find out what you are allergic too. They can give you shots to where you aren't allergic anymore.

Sounds like you have become histamine intolerant or have multiple chemical sensitivity. Try and see a functional doctor

Oh goodness, what a dreadfully unfortunate situation to be in!

Do antihistamines help you?

If your body is fighting something it is likely to disrupt or deplete your B12, as is the stress of the situation.

I really feel for you but don't know what to suggest, sorry!

thank you, as always! I'll increase my B12 and try to reduce exposure.. Antihistamines don't seem to help so I may try my GP ...I appreciate the support :-(

Go and see a real doctor.


I think you need to work with your HR rep and see if there is some occupational therapist function that you can be referred to.

You also need to see your GP and check that there isn't something else going wrong - though it doesn't sound like it if it only affects you whilst you are in the office. They may also be able to refer you to an allergy specialist.

If you think it could be perfume related does it happen when there is a particular colleague around? Keeping a diary of times when it is better or worse might also help you track down the cause.

in reply to Gambit62

thanks, Gambit. It isn't a person, it's the building (I did embarrass myself enough to talk to the one person sat near me :-) At one interview I collapsed - ) thought it was because I was due a jab but in retrospect I had had to move seats to avoid the chemical smell while waiting for my interview. Diary is a good thought -- the aircon doesn't smell all the time...

The pins and needles in your feet.........make sure it's not Peripheral Arterial Disease. What I though was either Anaemia or Polymyalgia Rheumatica (I've been diagnosed with both in the last few months) turned out to be PAD. My symptoms are numb/tingling feet, sometimes freezing cold. Worse when I lie in bed. Probably isn't but it's not worth risking. Just don't do what I did and ignore it

in reply to Woolyhead

thanks for the headsup -- am investigating it...

Are people in the building using trichloroethylene or perchloroethylene as a cleaning agent? I have worked with both and the symptoms are similar to those you mention.

I am suspicious of the cleaning agents as I know I can collapse when someone comes along and sprays my table in a pub...I suspect that is part of the problem.

Is your B12D autoimmune - PA? Loss of tolerance goes hand in hand with AI conditions (a lot of this link is about food reactions but also covers chemicals And how is your methylation - if you aren't methylating well you will not be able to get toxins out fast enough, also affects histamine, oestrogen etc etc. Have a look at Best wishes

Chemical sensitivity can also be a sign of inflammation

I have the same problem and over time you just become sicker. I can't handle anything with chemical fragrance and most chemicals. In an office environment that means co-workers that use laundry detergent and softeners, shampoos, makeup, lotions, etc. that smell. If there is carpet it is most likely cleaned with a deodorizing shampoo that has chemical fragrance. Hard floors are the same, most cleaners have a deodorizing chemical fragrance in them. Even the plastic used for most trash bags has chemical fragrance. I now go into an asthma attack if I get wiff of certain chemicals. I watched a good documentary on You tube that interviewed many people with the same problem. The one thing we all have in common is already being sick with some other immuno issue. I can't spend too much time in areas where there is a lot of people in a small space for to long or I will get sick.

If you think of what chemicals are and their affect on the body; basically a chemical will breakdown the body and make it sick. In a healthy person their body can repair that damage. For those of us not functioning correctly as it is the chemicals do more damage quicker and we are more sensitive to its affects. At least this is my take away from my own experience. I think as time goes on we will see more and more people with similar issues at varying degrees whether or not they want to admit that the make up they are wearing is giving them headaches.

thanks Paintladie - am sure you are right. I notice smells and chemicals all over the place (because they make me feel ill) and am angry that they are added to our world so haphazardly - I often have bad reactions just as you describe. I did notice once that my plane was on fire before it took off, so the sensitivity helped in that case :-) but I wish I could cope better with what I see as "evil chemicals" that I am forced to cope with.

in reply to Mashie44

It is not a fun position to be in, but the only way to manage it is by avoiding the chemicals.That means major lifestyle changes. Like I said you will not become accustom to them. They will just keep making you sicker. I am fortunate enough with some penny pinching that I can stay home with my kids, but when I did work usually by 6 months at a job my body would give out so severely I couldn't handle the stress. I would eventually have to leave work find a new job and start the cycle all over again. My husband carpools to work and when he gets home he has to change his clothes and wipe down with a natural soap. I get sick every Christmas because I have to visit people in their homes and be around large crowds. Their many products and bad habits (smoking) make me physically sick.

I am hopeful there seem to be more and more of us chemically sensitive people, and maybe bigger changes are going to be made soon because of it. They are starting to link many cancers to chemicals also, so hopefully science catches up. You already see it in the products being sold. Where I live ten years ago I was making my own detergent, body soaps, lotions, cloth diapering my 1st child, and everything because I could not find products I could use. Now they sell products I could use for just about everything.

Yeah, people need to stop playing Dr. Frankenstein it is proving not worth it.

Hi I also suffer with allergies to various perfumes, cleaning products, detergents etc. My doctor has perscribed antihistermine. I take one at night ( Hydroxyzine) which helps me sleep and stops me itching and one in the morning ( Cetirizine Dihydrochloride) which helps to some extent the with the day to day problem. I still am hit by some (unknown) things but any help is better than none. Perhaps your doctor can help you.

Hope you get sorted soon.

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