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DEAR ABBY: My colleague, "Allison," is a nice person, but she's also a major hypochondriac. Every day she complains about her latest ailment -- or a family member's -- and the intensive treatment it requires. Headaches, bathroom issues, rashes, aches, sinusitis, strange diseases, you name it. Still, she rarely exhibits any obvious symptoms and almost never misses an entire day of work.

Many of our co-workers pamper her and give her the attention she obviously wants. Because I tend to downplay her ailments I am considered insensitive and cruel. I am frustrated because I simply no longer care to listen to her made-up maladies. She also tries to convince everyone else in the office that their minor sniffles, fatigue and pulled muscles are symptoms of serious ailments.

Ironically, we are health-care workers, and talking about health issues is part of our job. I'm sick and tired of Allison the Hypochondriac. Have you any ideas on how to handle this woman? -- HEARD IT ALL IN N.Y.

DEAR HEARD IT ALL: Allison does have an illness, but it is not of a physical nature. Until the poor woman is ready to accept and deal with it -- or your supervisor or human resources person is ready to urge her to -- there is nothing you can do to "fix" her. Because her constant complaints are stressing you out, my advice is to move out of earshot as soon as she starts another chorus of her daily "organ recital."

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