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How Not to Get Sick at Work

Updated on December 16, 2012
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In Sickness and Health

In the 2012-13 season, the flu has started and spread early. Several cases have been reported across many states and their have already been a number of hospitilzations. While every case is different, there are certain places where you are more likely to get sick. One of those common areas happen to be work.

Many of us who are fortunate to work outside of the home these days have to be careful to not get sick. While it is easier said than done, there are some simple tips you can follow to prevent yourself from calling in sick to work or even worse, going to work sick.

And if all else fails and you did get sick, you will know how to properly survive the cold and flu season for the rest of this winter and into the next year.

Tip #1: Don't Go Anywhere with a Fever

If you don't know, the flu is contagious illness. And if you have a fever, that is one of the clearest signs that you are under the weather.

That being said, do everyone a favor- including yourself and stay home if you have a fever over 100 degrees.

If you come in to work with a fever, not only do you risk increasing your chances of a quick recovery but you also risk infecting co-workers. And while you think you are doing a great thing by making your money for the day, you're actually costing the company more money.

The thing is if you are sick and come in and you infect a co-worker or group of co-workers, it is highly likely you make them unable to come in and the company loses money and time by trying to figure out a way to get the work done in an efficient manner.

So do us a favor and take your temperature, if you're too hot to trot in to work- stay home!

Tip #2: Wash Your Hands or Use Hand Sanitizer

Why you think I might be trying to patronize some of you by suggesting this, I am not. It is something that needs to be addressed.

There are far too many times where I have heard stories of people not washing their hands and things deteriorating from there.

While it is a tedious task, it is also necessary to prevent the spread of germs. Every trip to the restroom, touch something that can transmit germs like paperwork, or sneeze, wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

It is true that both hand washing and hand sanitizers deplete the moisture from your hands, there is an easy solution. Invest in an hand sanitizer with lotion or apply hand lotion after using it each time. That way you can ensure good health.

Tip #3: Be Careful Eating Communal Food

Now some of you may use this as an excuse to avoid eating your supervisor's jello salad, this is no laughing matter. Any food that involves touching you need to be very careful in eating.

For instance, if your office holiday party has a cookie tray, you may want to reconsider grabbing a cookie. Not only will you save yourself unnecessary calories from the cookies, but you will also spare yourself some nasty germs.

Now if your work has a veggie tray that is accessible with tongs, you may want to give it a shot. But beware, those tongs might also have germs from others touching it- so you still may want to have the hand sanitizer handy.

Tip #4: Sneeze Into a Tissue or Your Elbow

If you had a mom like I did, this was like her drill sergeant course for how not to get sick and how to be courteous to others..

But it's true, if you have to sneeze grab a tissue or your elbow sleeve (if you're wearing long sleeves- that is) If all else fails, turn your head and duck down.

Either way, the best course of action is to think proactively and help not spread germs by being careful of how you sneeze. Even if you don't think you have a cold, it does not hurt to be aware and courteous.

As a side note, I would also encourage going outside or to the bathroom to blow your nose. There's nothing worse than being on the phone or engaging in conversation with others and someone on the other side sounding like Foghorn Leghorn.

Tip #5: Clean Your Desk

Huffington Post recently ran an article that said if you clear your desk at the end of the day, you improve your chances of not getting sick. However, you can go a step further and using a disinfectant wipe to swab down your desk at the end of the week.

If you do not know, your desk is a major germ hub. All of those papers, files, and electronics make for a perfect germ-making storm. Not only that, but think of the co-workers and supervisors coming by touching your space everyday. While all of these things may seem minute, they add up in the long run.

I personally recommend buying Lysol or Clorox wipes- they come in three-packs this time of year and are very cheap.

Common Cold Sense

I am in no way a genius but I do know a little bit about getting sick. I've been sick most years of my life for at least once a year. I've had everything from pneumonia to bronchitis to the flu. Some of this had to do with my work environment, but a lot of it comes from dealing with a history of allergies and asthma.

That being said, I wanted to spread the word so we can stop spreading the germs. Nothing gets me madder than someone who comes to work sick and infects others. I understand the need to make money but when your health is concerned, no dollar amount should be worth putting yourself and others at risk.

My workplace recently installed hand sanitizer at printing and copying stations as well as other common areas. Several people have been diagnosed with the flu and have come into work only to fall ill while risking others well-being.

If you need to put it in plain terms, cover your mouth, dress weather appropriate, and stop touching sensitive areas. While this may be easier said than done, it is possible.

Take care and have a safe and healthy winter!

Sickness and Work

Did you ever catch a cold or the flu from a co-worker?

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    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Express10,

      I agree. Just like with long term illness, you can be sick and not know it. And being proactive is the best way to keep everyone healthy.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      5 years ago from East Coast

      More people should take heed and recognize the fact that it's quite possible for some people to be sick and not show symptoms for hours or days prior to exhibiting symptoms. These are very effective reminders that definitely work to keep us healthy.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi DDE,

      I'm glad you found this hub useful. Thank you!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Simple tips which one should carefully consider when with a cold, helpful information to any reader.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      HI Alicia,

      Thank you for coming by and commenting!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for sharing the very useful suggestions, Alecia! This is certainly a bad time of year for getting a cold or the flu. Your hints to avoid getting sick are important.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you rajan!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very useful tips for such a contagious infection as the common cold. Thanks for sharing. Voting up and useful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Shiningirisheyes,

      I know- some people are pretty much unaware of how their actions or lack their of affect the rest of us. This year's a bad season to get sick so anything you can do to be proactive, helps. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I am truly astounded at the terribly unsanitary manner I see people practicing when sneezing and coughing. I also witness a terrible habit of people blowing their nose and leaving the tissue out rather than throwing it away.

      Great article that I hope more will follow.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I know being sick is costly in more ways than one. Thanks for coming by Unknown spy!

    • unknown spy profile image

      Not Found 

      5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      thanks for these advices Alecia. cant really afford to get sick today. very expensive.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Sunshine,

      I'm going to stay germ-free as possible :0!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Alecia...Wishing you a healthy and germ-free 2013, most likely not possible, but we could wish for it anyway! :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      HI Weekend Reader,

      My mom made me suck Fisherman's Friends as a kid but I haven't seen them lately. Not that I'm itching to get them, but they do the job. I try to wipe my desk with Lysol wipes once a week. The spray irritates my nasal allergies. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Cyndi,

      Getting sick is the worse! Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Alocsin,

      Thanks as always!

    • Weekend Reader profile image

      Cindy D Whipany 

      5 years ago

      When more than half of your co-workers are sneezing when they aren't coughing, pop a Fisherman's Friend cough drop into your mouth. These are pure menthol and taste ugly, but will clear your sinuses in seconds. They also create a 6-foot "safety radius" as everyone associates menthol with "sick." Germs seldom travel six feet through the air, so you improve your odds of remaining healthy. Lysol spray or wipes still great for the idiots that couldn't smell the menthol.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      5 years ago from Western NC

      Great tips here. It's definitely worth doing ALL these things to keep from getting sick. Getting sick is AWFUL. Enjoyed this - voted up and tweeted. :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 

      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think this is especially useful now, when winter is bringing a lot of colds and flu to people. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hey Jenbeach21,

      I can imagine that being a teacher makes it easier to get sick on the job. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • jenbeach21 profile image

      jenbeach21 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great information. I work with kids and I am constantly getting sick because they carry everything! I also have sanitizer all around.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks Michelle!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Great advice, especially in communal, air-conditioned environments where people catch germs easily. Thanks for sharing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Glimmer,

      I'm sorry to hear that. Feel better soon :)! Thanks very much!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      5 years ago

      Helpful tips as I lay here in bed with a sore throat and raw itchy eyes! The culprit in our house is usually my daughter or one of her friends. Off to drink some more tea.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi BlissfulWriter,

      Thanks for the heads up. I'll keep that in mind.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 

      5 years ago

      I also take vitamin D especially in winter when there is not much sun for the skin to generate its own vitamin D. Vitamin D helps support the immune system.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Teaches,

      I am the same way I have several bottles of sanitizer including one on my desk. And you definitely have to be careful about where you get your food from. Thanks as always!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Great post, Alecia. Sanitizer is my shield during the cold and flu season. I carry a purse-size bottle and have a stash at work. You can't be too careful during this holiday season either; make sure you know where the food source is coming from! Thanks for the tips.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Jeannie,

      I'm glad you know to stay out. My co-workers thought that it was okay to come back the next day while still mostly ineffective and unproductive. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 

      5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      This is great advice. I have been sick for over a week now. The first three days I was sick, I did not work, but eventually, I had to go back. I am sure I was no longer contagious at that point, but boy, do people glare at the sneezing girl! At least no one wanted to share food with me or bothered me too much for days! :-) Great advice and voted up!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Sunshine,

      I agree. Now if the people I work with could see this.. Thanks!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent tips Alecia. I'd apply this to school too. If you are sick stay home, it's that simple. No one wants your germs! Well done! :)

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