It’s that time of year, when viruses are running rampant and we’re all trying to avoid getting sick. Despite your best efforts to stay healthy, your throat is feeling scratchy and you’ve developed the sniffles. Could you be coming down with a cold or, worse yet, the flu?
|Charles Sevastos, DO, FACOFP|
Either way, if those early symptoms of viral infection turn into fever, chills, achy muscles, a store throat, congestion or a productive cough, stay home and let your body heal. No matter how many emails are waiting for you at the office, you’re better off taking a day or two off than pushing yourself and running the risk of developing a more serious infection, requiring an even longer recovery or even hospitalization. Each year more than 200,000 people end up in the ER with complications from the flu alone!
Taking a couple of sick days will also keep you from spreading germs to your coworkers. Highly contagious, the common cold and flu can spread via droplets in the air, requiring nothing more than casual contact to infect fellow employees.
If you have a cold, you’re most contagious those first few days you exhibit symptoms, which is typically when most people decide to tough it out and go to work. The flu virus is contagious for up to a week—even more reason to stay home and recuperate.
Fever is one symptom you should never ignore, especially if it ticks up past 101 degrees. At that point you need to talk to your doctor.
In those situations when your symptoms are mild and you feel you can perform the duties of your job as you normally would, it’s probably OK to consider going in to work. But take the following precautions to keep from spreading any bacteria or virus you may be carrying:
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
- Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or the crook of your elbow instead of your hand as viruses are easily spread through touch.
- Avoid direct physical contact with others.
If you work with the elderly, young children or people with compromised immune systems, take extra precaution and stay home.
With the flu season still upon us, the best way to stay healthy is by getting your flu shot. It can protect you from illness—and, in turn, protect your family, friends and co-workers.
Dr. Charles Sevastos is a board-certified family medicine specialist at Beaufort Memorial Bluffton Primary Care. He can be reached at (843) 706-8690.