It’s officially wintertime! No, it’s not because it’s December 1 or December 21, the seasonal start to winter. You can tell winter is here when more and more of your coworkers are calling in sick to work. But if it’s a work day and you wake up feeling bad, how do you know if you should tough it out or call in sick? Going to work means ensuring your work gets done and getting paid, but it’s at the cost of possibly infect others. Staying home means using sick days, reduced pay, and having to get a doctor’s note stating you were actually sick (or at least told them as much).
To help you resolve this dilemma, we’ve created some helpful guidelines:
- Are you contagious? If you have a viral or bacterial infection, stay home, even if you do feel like you can function at slightly sub-par levels. Think of all the people you encounter that you could pass you bug along to throughout the day. Some of them will possibly have a weaker immune systems than yours, especially if they are very young or elderly. Keeping your your contagion out of the public will help keep everyone healthy.
- Will resting help you get better? Many people push themselves too hard when they’re sick. As a result, this makes their illness even worse than it may have been if they had taken some time to rest.
- Are you running a fever? If your body temperature is above is above 37.8℃, then you’re running a fever. Couple that with aches and pains and it’s time to contact HR to let them know you won’t be coming in today. Stay fever-free for 24 hours — without the help of fever reducers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Then you can head back to work.
- Heading off to work…you may already be worse than you think. The problem is that in the first 6 to 12 hours after onset of an illness, symptoms can get much worse. This means that by the time you start to feel really awful or have bad symptoms, you’re already sitting at your desk.
- Are you vomiting or have diarrhea? Not much to say here, as it’s pretty obvious that if you are experiencing these, you’re not going anywhere except back and forth from the toilet.
Being sick and struggling to figure out if you’re OK to go to work can be a hard choice for a lot of people. If you’re truly sick, but you hate taking sick leave, the best thing you can do is stay in bed and get better. Sure, people who rely on you will have to pick up some slack, but you can make up for it by coming back when you’re healthy and giving it your all. Working sick is as unfair to your coworkers, who you potentially infect, as it is to yourself. Every person you come in contact with while sick and out in public is one more chance to spread infection. If you are feeling sick, someone from the FirstMed team of doctors and nurses is ready to help you get back on your feet.
Tips for a healthy workplace
- Wash your hands frequently. Though viruses live on surfaces for just a few minutes, some can stay active on very hard surfaces, like plastics and stainless steel, for up to two days. You’re not getting much more protection from hand sanitizers, so wash with lots of soap and water for at least 30 seconds.
- Keep hand contact to a minimum, especially when sneezing. When you do feel a sneeze coming on, sneeze into a tissue or even your elbow. It keeps germs off your hands and from spreading on to other surfaces. If you have a shared workspace, make sure you use disinfectants or anti-germ wipes.
- If you’re prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to take it as prescribed all the way to the very last pill, even if you feel normal.