Q: Is it sensible for those with food intolerances to avoid certain career paths?

Some helpful answers, interestingly mostly perfume/fume sensitivities which go with food intolerance:

The hospitality industry isn’t good to work in especially if you are in the kitchen with all the foods and have to taste what you make. Also the cleaning agents aren't great either. And being a barista is bad too as your skin absorbs the coffee you work with.  The only good occupation I've found is being a stay at home mum but that won’t last forever - Laura

Cleaning was hard, but gloves and good quality paint mask helped immensely - Teresa

I am an artist and art teacher. I make sure we have good ventilation in the classroom and insist on students using the non-toxic /smell free versions of paint and solvents while in my classroom. But it can be hard - there are some days when I am overloaded with chemicals. I gave up oil painting but now work with sculpture, watercolour etc. Oil painting is actually doable with good ventilation and good quality smell-free chemicals. Just have to be careful to change clothes and shower properly after each painting session!- Yen

I work retail and it can be difficult at times. I have managed ok but there are certain things I can’t do at work like cleaning as the chemicals cause bad reactions on my skin, I can’t work in the fresh food departments because of chemicals again but also the use of gloves irritates my skin and constant hand washing with the hand soap at work causes severe dry skin and a rash. I also have difficulty with colleagues and customers who wear too much perfume/fragrances deodorants and deal with it as best I can. It’s hard some days especially if I’ve already had a reaction to a food work just makes it harder but I’m getting better on that front so can deal with the other reactions better as well – Joanna

I have quite a unique job. I am an accommodation worker and look after 31 units and rooms onsite so am in the office half the time and waking around the building at other times. I tackled my workplace and asked for reasonable adjustments to be made - basically asking that colleagues do not wear fragrances and changed my desk to more of a corner area to avoid passing people all the time as they still have to wear deodorants. I have to do weekly room inspections which can sometimes set me off if a resident has just cleaned that day or has any of those plug ins actively running or the new diffuser things. I wear a mini air purifier all the time at work and bought good quality rechargeable batteries and charger for my desk so that I have a constant supply of batteries. It is doable. If a person forgets and wears something strong I can use a computer in a meeting room away from the office or go to another branch where they sit me away from others. It took a few years for this to occur though but as soon as I mentioned MCS is basically recognised as a disability my boss and the organisation decided it wasn’t worth taking a risk from a health and safety perspective – Sarah

I am a chemist and I’m hoping to move into more measurement and calculations roles rather than synthetic chemistry (so many amines and some salicylates too). At the moment I’m just really careful with wearing gloves and working in fumehoods, and I bring my own soap! - Jen

I have been a nurse for 30 years & over the last couple years have started getting migraines from the hand washing chemicals-the basin washing is bad enough but now u r expected to use the hand gels 100s of times per day. Looking for alternate employment after a break being a carer for my Mum. Even research recruiting which I have done in the past is a no go due to the severity of my reactions to even small amounts of hand washing per day. I may go into working with the disabled as I can take my own soap - Jenny

Disability Support worker in a group home.... hand soap, spray deodorants used on clients , chemical spray deodorisers, aromatherapy diffusers, bug sprays....have asked for support from other workers, rarely get it! - Carol

Baking and cooking were my hobbies and now I can't event do new recipes for other people cause I can't taste it, couldn't imagine being a chef - Deb

I had to quit my art course at TAFE because the paint fumes were too much for me, but on the other hand I can use acrylic paints without too much issue. Art type stuff there’s a lot of fumes but if you wanted to pursue art yourself you can figure out what works for you. I did cake decorating for a while but gave it up as a career option...I love it and I’m good at it, but people kept ordering chocolate mud cake and I couldn’t stand having the house full of chocolate cake smells all the time! And having to melt and temper chocolate was torture. I would certainly never consider a career in hairdressing or candle making or perfume sales...if I’m going to be sick from salicylates I’d rather be eating fruit! But if it’s your passion then it’s a matter of seeing if you can find a balance that works for you. My friend has her own hairdresser studio in her backyard for example...that sort of setup would hugely reduce the amount of fumes, and you could get fresh air through as well - Ruth

I have quite severe food intolerances, I coped as a theatre nurse for 20yrs, now I can’t cope with the hand wash & diathermy smoke - Kate

I work in a small office and love it. We only have 9 staff and they understand my sensitivities but not always easy to find a job like that – Lea

I worked in pharmacy as a teenager. Couldn’t stand the soap aisle. Went farming and hay fever was awful issue! The supermarket aisle of soap powders is horrendously stinky. The pest control aisle of garden centre or hardware store ugh! Paint fumes, new cars another no go. Big malls or big corporations with automatic “air fresheners” or “ bug controls sprays” may not be avoidable either. So many traps out there. A job in fresh air at the seaside maybe? - Chris

I'm a nurse I was healthy when I started but it's a nightmare now...exposure to multiple strong perfumes, aerosols, cleaning products, smoke etc. I have migraines and asthma too and it's awful for that as well noisy, bright lights etc - Peta

Aircon in the office was nearly always a problem for me so that would be limiting if you couldn't manage it - Beth

I’m a primary teacher. It’s quite ok because I have a fair amount of control over my work environment. I can tell the students not to wear any spray on deodorants or perfumes. I’ve had one issue with super strong smelling laundry detergent or fabric softener on a child’s uniform. Also some colleagues I’ve had to sit in meetings with after school have strong perfume. I have asked them not to wear it but sometimes they forget. I can choose to open or close the doors and windows and whether to turn on aircon or not. I bring in my own Norwex cloths and have children clean desks with those instead of smelly chemical cleaners. I also use them on the whiteboard instead of the strong smelling whiteboard cleaner. My worst day was a whole day of professional development in a room that smelt very strongly of a chemical like whiteboard cleaner. I had a migraine by the end of the day - Mary

I am sensitive to fluorescent lights. They give me sever migraines and make me fall asleep or at the very least give me an extremely foggy head and make it impossible to concentrate. I have found that if there is enough natural light in the room it’s ok - Lee

Being in public is unsafe enough for me to experience negative effects e.g. reactions to fragrances; so I'd think being around a concentrated lot of triggering artificial chemicals, as in a nail salon, would be still more immediately problematic.  I work across my company's clinic and within the client's home, as an intensive therapist for a child with ASD. The triggers I can't control are synthetic fragrances used in the rooms and by other staff/clients, cleaning products, and tobacco smoke. Masks can help a bit, but my eyes are still exposed and I don't use the mask when with my child. I should see if I can request the client from refraining from smoking or wearing perfume around me, but I'm a bit nervous to do that still! The gym is the worst place for me, as most people decide to add strong, often synthetic, fragrances and it's just impossible to get through a workout with a mask on! – Mitha

 

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