You may actually be allergic to your office because of this

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Good news. The weather has become much warmer, in some case very warm. The bad news? Soon you will be — or already are — sitting in a freezing cold office with the AC cranked up to what seems like a ridiculously high level and wearing a puffy coat.

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Yes, on those hot, humid summer days it is great to come in from your sweaty commute to a nice, cool office except after 20 minutes you are all cooled off and then you begin to freeze. And for one woman that strong office AC became detrimental to her health.

The woman began to break out in hives when the AC was turned up and after a visit to the doctor she was diagnosed with cold urticaria AKA she is allergic to cold temperatures and objects and therefore her office. Cols urticaria is a rare condition (less than 3% of the population has it) but it does exist and occurs most frequently in young adults. According to The Mayo Clinic, symptoms can vary but include people breaking out in hives, swelling of the hands and/or lips,  in cold temperatures or coming in contact with something cold. In worse cases, a person can develop low blood pressure, faint or even go to shock after swimming in cold water.

So you may legitimately be allergic to your office environment if any of this sounds familiar. There is no real cure for the condition, and sometimes it just goes away on its own, but treatment includes nondrowsy antihistamines and Omalizumab. Though this may be the key to getting a bunch of work from home days this summer, do consult with your doctor before self-diagnosis.

As for what the rest of us can do who don’t have cold urticaria, and are just regular cold and therefore whiny, try the following tips.

1. Layer! Layer! Layer!


Get an office sweater or light jacket you can just keep at work. Your feet and legs can also get cold so consider a pair of warm slippers to wear (just under your desk) or bring back the 80s with some leg warmers.

2. Wrap it up

Try a festive summer scarf or take one of those winter scarves out of storage and wrap it around your neck as a lot of heat is lost through that area.

3. Embrace the dark side

Though summer is a time to sport some bright colors you may want to save some all black outfits for the office so you can absorb some of the heat in your office (if there is any.)

If you feel your office is too cold you can also cite research that found when an office’s temperature was raised to 77 degrees from 68, typing errors fell by 44% and output increased by around 150%.

This article originally appeared on Ladders, a publication dedicated to breaking news, opinion, analysis and advice at the cutting edge of our changing workplace. For more, sign up for Ladders' newsletter here.

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