When you wake up sniffling, coughing and sneezing, you may think that you’ll win the “employee of the month” award if you trek into work even though sickness has taken over your body. But, in reality this is the worst thing that you can do for your co-workers. By “being a hero” and making the journey into work when you’re sick, you will effectively expose all of your co-workers to your sickness and they most definitely will not be thanking you!
Questions to Ask About Your Sickness
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when trying to make the decision whether you should go into work or not when you’re sick:
- Are you contagious? if you answer “yes” to this, it’s simple, stay home. If you have a cold or the flu and go into work, you’re exposing your entire workplace to your sickness. Staying at home for a couple of days and resting up will help to decrease sickness in your workplace and in your community.
- Will you be able to carry out your job tasks? If you’re feeling lousy, chances are you won’t be able to focus on your job tasks so your productivity will decrease. Your time is better spent in your bed, recovering from your sickness.
- Will resting help you fight sickness? While you may want to continue working, this may impair your immune system even more. When you’re sick, your immune system is already weakened and if you’re constantly running around the office you’re stressing your immune system even more. You may end up even sicker than if you just gave your immune system a chance to fight the illness in the beginning.
- Are you taking medications that may impair your mental and/or physical abilities? If you’re taking a cold medication that may make you drowsy or dizzy, you may be putting yourself (as well as your co-workers) in harms’ way. So, it’s best to stay home if you’re taking medication that may alter your mental and/or physical functioning.
Sickness and Staying Home From Work
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states “if possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick”. Cold and flu viruses are highly contagious and spread quickly throughout the workplace because people touch shared surfaces in the office such as phones, computers, and desks. It is important to take time off of work if you’re suffering with the cold or flu in order to prevent the spread of disease. It’s not just your co-workers that are affected by your illness, your co-workers who are exposed to the cold and flu viruses at work take these viruses home to their families. This may include infants, children, the elderly and those who have a compromised immune system. These individuals are at a higher risk of serious complications from the cold and flu viruses. It is important to help control the spread of contagious viruses such as the cold and flu.
Sickness From Cold and Flu
The common cold, which has symptoms including, a scratchy throat, runny nose and sneezing as well as a possible fever is the most contagious for two days following the onset of symptoms. Staying home and resting when you have common cold symptoms will allow your immune system to fight the infection, leading to a quicker recovery (and a quicker return to normal work activities).
The flu usually impacts a person harder that the common cold, with symptoms of fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough, weakness and fatigue. You will need a few days off to recuperate from the flu and it is generally safe to return to work 24-48 hours after your temperature has returned to a normal level.
Related Reading: Immune System
In the long run, taking a day or two off due to sickness isn’t the end of the world. Your employer should understand that you need to rest to allow your immune system time to fight off the infection. You may need to remind your employer that you’re trying to prevent passing along your sickness to your co-workers by staying home for a couple of days. Staying home and resting up will help to minimize the spread of disease, which in turn, leads to a healthier community.
Related Reading: Natural remedies to cure sore throat