Sneezing in the Spotlight: Grin and Bear It?

Allergies acting up? The first instinct for a sufferer might be to crawl back under the covers and away from the light of day.

But staying indoors may not be an option for celebrities who want to remain on the public radar. For public figures such as Jessica Simpson, Scarlett Johansson and Serena Williams, allergies can pose a problem.

"Your nose is running, you are sneezing a lot, eyes are watery and red," said Dr. Marc Riedl, assistant professor of medicine and section head of clinical immunology and allergy at the University of California-Los Angeles. "We hear it over and over from individuals, being in social settings and having the attention on you."

Trying to focus on a job, despite having allergies, can be made even more difficult if exposure to an allergen is in your job description. A movie featuring a cat or dog can pose serious problems for an actor who has an allergy. Riedl said this situation bypasses the first rule of combating allergies: avoiding the allergen.

And having to perform at a certain standard might leave a person with no option but to ignore the allergy or to attempt precautionary measures, such as taking an antihistamine. For example, pro-golfer Tiger Woods plays his way through tournaments, despite a pollen allergy.

Some studies have shown that mood can affect how bothersome allergy symptoms are. In one study, subjects who were watching a funny movie were less bothered by their allergy symptoms than those who watched a sad movie. In general, people who are focused on a task or are enjoying something are less troubled by their allergies.

"Certainly, the symptoms can be influenced by the state of mind," Riedl said.

For those whose allergies are simply a nuisance but not life threatening, however, there may be nothing to do but endure some discomfort until they pass.

"There are many people working in those situations who just grin and bear it," Riedl said. "Regardless of a person's occupation … you can expect there will be an impact on their job and quality of life."

The following is a list of a few celebrities who get the sniffles on the job.

Jessica Simpson

Simpson, 28, has made headlines with her music, her personal life and her food mix-ups.

She rose to fame in the early 2000s with her singing career, but it was her MTV reality show, "Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica," with former 98 degrees star Nick Lachey that made her a household name.

In the first season, Simpson famously asked then-husband Lachey whether her tuna fish was chicken, confusing the food with the Chicken of the Sea brand name. "Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it's tuna, but it says [sic] 'Chicken... by the Sea.'"

In that same 2003 season, Simpson learned that Buffalo wings don't come from buffaloes.

The couple split in 2005, ending the successful show. Simpson's habit of confusing foods might do more than damage her reputation. In a 2007 interview by Andrew Goldman in Elle magazine, Simpson revealed numerous food "allergies" more likely to be described as intolerances by allergists.

"She's allergic to cheese. And wheat. Oh, and tomatoes, hot peppers, coffee, corn, and chocolate," Goldman wrote in Elle.

Scarlett Johansson

Known for her striking beauty, as well as her rich voice and talent, Scarlett Johansson has made a respectable career for herself at a young age.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...