Sniffly Indians?

At work, my desk is right next to an Indian guy’s. In the fourteen months I’ve worked here, he has been sniffly non-stop. He takes a work-from-home day at least once a month due to sneezing, fevers, etc. He swears up and down that his doctor says he isn’t contagious.

Yesterday, I was complaining about it to my boyfriend via IM. He once spent several months in Nepal, and says that lots of kids there are chronically sniffly, and that a Western woman there said that it was due to a congenital problem that could be corrected by surgery while they were children.

I then remembered that, in the early parts of Midnight’s Children, the protagonist’s parents send him in for a surgery to dry up his copiously productive nasal passages.

I’m seeing a pattern. Does anyone know what this defect is, and what the surgery is that fixes it?

Might or might not be a related anecdote:

Many Indian folks I have known personally (mostly through work) lament the unavailability of good over-the-counter cold medicines in the U.S. You know … stuff that really works.

If I understand right, there seems to be a bunch of cold/allergy products made in India based on copious amounts of eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil can be found in common American medicines, too (e.g. Vick’s vapor rub), but in much smaller concentration than can be found in Indian medicines.

A lot of these folks talked about bringing back as much allergy medicine as possible from India, or requesting that relatives/friends visiting India do the same for them.

Maybe it’s all the spicy food they eat.

He could have a tic disorder and can’t help the sniffing. It wouldn’t explain the fevers but maybe he’s really embarassed about it and uses them as a cover story.

The sniffly Indians (band name?) I work with all suffer from allergies. It seems to be nearly year-round for people with multiple allergies, as one allergy season leads to the next. (spring pollen allergies, followed by cut grass allergies, followed by rag weed, followed by leaf mold. . . )
I also know non-Indian persons that fit this description.
I am grateful to not have nasal allergies. (but am aware that that can change)

Funny, I’m Indian, and do get allergies. Never thought of a connection. I am allergic to dust mites, so I sneeze and sniffle my way through every morning.

But this is a really high-allergen area, so I don’t think you can count me as any statistic.

Hmm. Sounds like nobody but this Western Lady has heard of the problem. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Oh, well, what the hell.

So are there any operations that would fix an over-active mucus membrane? It sounds kind of dubious, to me. There are surgeries for deviated septums, but that doesn’t necessarily make a person sniffly.

My next-desk-neighbor is not sniffing just as a tic, btw. He’s definitely full of snot. Trust me. After 14 months, I’m absolutely sure.

I’ve never noticed this.

Actually, I’ve never noticed any ethnic group having a greater tendency to the sniffles. What I have noticed though, is Chinese men having a habit of hoiking up phlegm, but doing so voluntarily. I used to live in a Chinese household, and the young men would all do this - noisily - every time they went to do their daily ablutions. They told me there was a belief that it was “better out than in”, and even if they weren’t suffering from any sort of cold or anything, I would be subjected to a daily orchestra of loud “khhhhhchkkkkkk” sounds echoing about the house.

One possibility, if they are not native to the area they may have a higher liklihood of allergic reactions to some local flora. I work with a lot of indians (more than 50% of my local workforce) and have never noticed the sniffing issue.

God. My dad did this. He either used a handkerchief, or just BLAT! right between his fingers. It made me physically ill.

Yeah, I’m generally pretty tolerant of that sort of stuff, but it was up there with “stranger-next-to-you-on-the-bus-clipping-his-nails” in terms of my own hair-on-end, GET ME OUT OF HERE response. I’m not sure why we’re wired to respond that way to what is essentially harmless, but I sure as hell felt it.

Did they smoke cigarettes? This was pretty much a necessity 2 or 3 times a day back when I used to smoke, especially first thing in the morning. Now I don’t need to do it as long as my allergies aren’t particularly bad.

And IANAD but “better out than in” might not be such a bad philosophy. Excess phlegm, to my understanding, is usually a response to some environmental irritant. If it’s trapping (and therefore full of) something my body doesn’t like, I’d rather get rid of it.

My dad smoked when I was young, but he kept doing this years after he smoked, and even does it now.

I agree in principle better out than in. It still skeeves me the fuck out though. I have a visceral reaction to snot and phlegm - yuckyuckyuckyuck