Office etiquette for cold and flu season

December 04, 2018 | by Amish Doshi, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

You know that sinking feeling you get when you hear a co-worker hacking in the next cube.

The inevitable sore throat you eventually feel when you work closely with someone carrying wads of tissue and frequently blowing their nose.

You know that it is cold and flu season when you start to hear sniffling and sneezing around you at work. Many adults will work through colds, even if they feel miserable. Working next to someone who is sick makes you more likely to catch what they have.

The first thing you should do every year to help prevent sickness is get a flu vaccine. Encourage the other people in your office to get vaccinated, too.

If you do end up getting sick, stay home! Work from home or take sick time off until you have gone 24 hours without a fever.

The best place for you to be when you have a contagious cold or flu virus is isolated in your home. That way you won’t infect your unsuspecting co-workers.

If you absolutely must go in to work, there are some things you can do to prevent your germs from spreading:

  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm. Cover your nose and mouth.
  • Wash your hands after doing any of the following: blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, touching your mucus or contaminated objects and surfaces.
  • Agree not to shake hands with colleagues while you’re sick. They won’t be offended.
  • Clean the communal spaces you touch (microwave, door handles, etc.) with disinfecting wipes. Better yet, don’t use the office microwave
  • Wear a cold/flu mask over your mouth and nose whenever possible – these are available at most doctor’s offices or your local pharmacy/drug store

If you have the flu, you probably won’t feel like going anywhere. The flu hits you suddenly, with severe symptoms such as fever/chills, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, aches, fatigue and even vomiting or diarrhea.

Colds start small, often with a stuffy nose or a sore throat. They gradually worsen and peak before symptoms lessen.

You’ll definitely feel worse with the flu. But whether it’s a cold or flu, you will be contagious. Stay home, feel better and help make your work environment a healthier place.

Dr. Doshi is an internal medicine physician with Edward Medical Group and is accepting new patients in Naperville! View his profile and schedule an appointment online.

Related blogs:
How to know if you have the flu (and what to do about it)
5 myths about flu shots
Wash those hands; save yourself a trip to the doctor’s office


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