According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays per year. That’s a hefty number, so weighty in fact – it costs companies $7 billion per year in lost productivity! So, does this mean you should strap on your shoes and “tough it out”? Not a chance. The hard-working project managers and salesmen among us may be tempted to do so, but the flu is one problem you don’t want to bring to work with you.
Known as Influenza, the flu is not your run of the mill cold. A force to be reckoned with, it spreads rapidly, attacks the nose, lungs, and throat – and can even kill. By mid-January, the flu of 2018 has already led to higher rates of hospitalization than those of previous years.
The importance of keeping this disease contained should not be understated. While the idea of quarantining yourself may seem unwelcoming, it’s worth considering the fate of your coworkers. By sacrificing a small amount of time away from work, you’ll save the productivity of your whole team by preventing the spread of germs.
Worried about your employer getting peeved by your absence? Don’t fret; according to the United States Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires employers to offer safe working conditions. If you’re not sure when to venture back out, ask your physician or heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control. Their recommendation is to remain at home for 24 hours after your fever has subsided (without the use of medication).
Before flu season strikes, take preventive measures. Despite the perpetual controversies surrounding vaccines, flu shots are the simplest way to prevent the spread of Influenza. In fact, many employer’s health centers offer these vaccines on site; after all, it ends up saving both you and them big bucks. If your employer doesn’t offer them, check major drugstores – many of them offer complimentary and convenient flu shots.
Practice healthy habits like consistent hand-washing. The workday gets busy – but you don’t want to let your conference call put your immune system through the ringer. From touching doorknobs to dialing the telephone, offices present many challenges for those trying to keep germs at bay. Fight back by adhering to recommended hand-washing guidelines. Wet your hands with clean, running water, apply soap, and scrub thoroughly; be sure to get under your nails, the backs of your hands, and between your fingers for optimal cleansing. This process should be done for a minimum of 20 seconds to eliminate contaminants.
You may worry that walking around with a can of Lysol will make you look paranoid – but isn’t that better than feeling under the weather? The flu virus is very resilient and can remain on surfaces for over 24 hours. When you’re in a pinch or can’t make it to a sink, Purell or another antiseptic gel that contains at least 60% alcohol works as a temporary fix. If possible, try not to share workplace utensils when the flu is going around; carrying your own pen, making calls from your own phone, and keeping your distance from coworkers who seem like they might be sick are all helpful tips.
If you feel that your workplace isn’t taking proper precautions to prevent Influenza, say something. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analyzes ways for workplaces to stay healthier when flu season rears its ugly head. In some cases, the flu requires more extreme measures than rest, relaxation, and a few days to recuperate. Visit your primary care doctor or family physician; they’ll provide suggestions on how to beat your sickness in the shortest amount of time. They may prescribe an antiviral drug to shorten the length and intensity of your symptoms. These prescription medicines can make all the difference between getting back to work or dealing with an indefinite hospital stay.
Lynx Healthcare offers a number of medical services, from family medicine to physical therapy. Their practice offers preventive care for diseases like the flu, and can help you get back to business, sooner! Call (509) 591-0070 for Tri-Cities, Walla Walla, Oregon, Yakima, or Goldendale Pain Clinics, or (509) 321-4575 for the Spokane office.