Those of you who are located in the Northern Hemisphere surely know that it's the season of airborne pollen, which in some people can cause serious allergic hay fever, rhinitis and asthma.
I am one of the victims of this epidemic and in addition to sneezing (which I can control to an extent), the most audible symptom is sniffling (reflex of drawing air through nose multiple times to try clear the airways - happens also when you have a cold or runny nose!). Unfortunately I cannot switch these symptoms off when I am at work and some people who are not affected by the illness seem to not understand this and are quite irritated.
Two such colleagues whom I work with in different teams were really stern about this and said into my face remarks such as:"Stop that, it's really annoying.", "Can you please stop that? It's getting on my nerves!" My reaction was to try and forcibly repress the sniffling - but that worsens the symptoms... and I start all over again. (FYI for those unfamiliar: unlike colds, you cannot just "blow your nose" and all... hay fever is an allergic reaction i.e. the body thinks you are under attack and tells all of other body parts to work together to compensate).
How to deal with such people, especially in the heat of the moment, as soon as they direct the criticism? Honestly, I felt a bit hurt as they were essentially asking me to do something I had no real control over... which is almost a bit like torture. In general, hay fever is a torture, and medicine doesn't always help.
What to do in situations like these?
P.S.: The symptoms can last for months, so I cannot simply take holiday when everyone else is missing, too.