The cold weather has ushered in crisp breezes and fluttering of snow. And sadly, a cougher in my office who just cannot get the hint to stay home when sick.
If you work in tight confined cubicles, or you just happen to live in the outside world, you will come across a sickie: someone who is sick but for lack of better judgment cannot just stay home until they get well. Instead, the germs are passed on to unsuspecting passerbys. And these offenders come from all different places: work, the gym (I saw you over there sniffling on the treadmill!), family gatherings (someone would rather spread feverish germs than miss out on the good time) or at a play or concert (can’t give up those tickets). While no one wants to miss out on any fun wintertime activities, diseases and germs are spread by people who have them.
Sadly, you cannot control others from coming to work when sick so you must safeguard yourself the best you can. Here are some tips to ensure that you do not use any of your precious sick days because of Mr. Sniffles in the corner cubicle.
- Be smart about vaccines. The best way to avoid the flu virus is to get the vaccine. Some people experience different side effects- some claim the vaccines actually make them sick- so listen to your own body and know how you react. If you know you will be in a place where you will be exposed to the flu, or you work with people who are at high risk of contracting the flu (think seniors, babies and young children) contact your doctor and get the flu shot. Thankfully, almost all individual health insurance plans cover most of the cost of a flu shot. Visit your local pharmacy, some grocery stores, flu clinics or doctor’s office to get your now.
- Door handles are not the only place to get germs. Sure, not using your bare hands can be a great way to avoid germs on door handles (even though you might look a bit spastic opening a door without your hands) but door handles are not the only place that harbors germs. Actually, airborne germs– think sneezing or coughing– are more likely to give you the flu or a cold. Teach your children to cough into their shirt (to keep germs to themselves) and to wash hands often. Notice your co-worker is coughing often without washing hands, talk to your boss. No, you aren’t a nark. But each office should have some sort of reminder about how to keep germs to yourself.
- Know the difference between the flu and a cold. This classification is important because you treat and remedy each one differently. A cold is a bacterial infection. It often requires lots of fluids, sleep and OTC (over the counter) medications to make you feel better. The flu is like a cold but with a high fever, aches and chills. The flu warrants a visit to your doctor for an antiviral medication to knock it out.