Sneezing in the Spotlight: Grin and Bear It?

Swelling, itching allergies can be a work hazard for celebs in the public eye.

ByRadha Chitale and Lauren Cox<br>abc News Medical Unit
September 10, 2008, 2:21 PM

Sept. 11, 2008&#151; -- 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.

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