Feature Archive

How to Handle a Chronic Illness at Work

Whether it's epilepsy or peanut allergies here are some tips on who to tell, what your employer needs to know, and what people should do in case of an emergency.

By HeatherHatfield
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By MichaelSmith,MD

While keeping your private life out of your work life is the professional way to go, sometimes, that's not practical -- or healthy. When you have a chronic illness, such as epilepsy, peanut allergies, or diabetes, you need an ally at the office.

Who should that ally be, how does he need to handle himself, and what should he do in case of an emergency? Here are some practical tips experts offer WebMD that will help you balance your health with your career.

Living With a Chronic Illness: Who Needs to Know

"Start by talking to your doctor," says Susan Kerner, director of the Employee Assistance Program for Southern NH Health System in Nashua, N.H. "Your doctor can help you better understand and articulate what your symptoms are, how severe they are, and exactly what you need to be prepared for."

Next, find out if the company you work for has a corporate or employee health department.

"It's sometimes helpful to talk to an occupational health or corporate health representative who can give you words of wisdom," says Kerner. "They are experienced in areas such as helping employees deal with issues like these in the workplace."