This season alone, as of February 2020, the CDC estimates at least 34 million people have caught a flu illness.
The biggest indicator of the flu is its tell-tale symptoms: cough, sore throat, headache, lethargy, muscle and body aches, fever and chills – just to name a few.
Whether it’s the flu or any other illness, it is important to limit your contact with others and practice healthy hygiene to decrease your chances of passing anything on to anyone else. Unfortunately, many people do not heed experts' advice and continue with their routine as normal when they are feeling under the weather--and this includes going to work.
So, what can you do as a healthy person to protect yourself from that sick (and stubborn) coworker?
Here a few things you can do to better protect yourself from getting sick during flu season:
Take a Shot on the Flu Shot!
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months old should receive a flu shot. Every year, a seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the strains of the influenza virus researchers believe will be the most prevalent in the upcoming season; this year’s flu shot (2019-2020 season) protects against four types of influenza viruses including influenza A (H1N1), influenza A (H3N2), and two types of influenza B viruses.
The most effective timeframe to get an influenza vaccination is near the end of October; however, getting the influenza vaccine later in the flu season can be effective as well. If you get your flu shot too early, however, this can reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine during the peak of flu season.
If you have a stubborn coworker who won't stay home while sick, it is important to limit your contact with them and wash your hands regularly.
Practice Healthy Habits
If you have come into contact with someone you suspect may have the flu, it is important to remember this won’t automatically make you sick. Various factors play a role in successful transmission –including how effective you are at stopping these pathogens from entering your body.
Wash 👏 Your 👏 hands 👏!
This may seem obvious because you hear it all the time, but there is a reason for that; effective hand washing reduces the risk of infection significantly for different types of illnesses.
The keyword here, though, is effective, and unfortunately, not everyone knows the proper way to wash their hands.
Per the CDC, here are the 5 easy steps to properly wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with hot or cold water and use antibacterial soap.
- Lather up the soap and properly lather the back of your hands and between your fingers.
- Time frame? Count to 20 – one-one thousand, two-one thousand, etc. OR sing Happy Birthday to yourself twice.
- Rinse your hands with fresh, running water
- Thoroughly dry your hands with a clean towel or let air dry.
When you can’t properly wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Remember, hand sanitizer does not protect against all germs and should be used as a supplement between hand washing –not as a replacement for it.
Do you know the last time the doorknobs, your phone, your keyboard, or the common spaces at work were disinfected?
According to research, a single doorknob or tabletop can spread a virus to 40-60% of a workforce within 2-4 hours of contamination.
Our hands are how we interact with the world, which is why it is so important to wash them regularly and sanitize commonly touched surfaces. Going along with this, it is important to avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth with your hands to prevent anything from entering your body; use a tissue when you sneeze or cough to avoid the spread of germs into the air and onto these commonly touches surfaces.
hand sanitizer should be used as a supplement to hand washing –not as a replacement for it
Maintain Your Immune System
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Maintain a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables! There are plenty of yummy fruits and veggies that can naturally give your immune system a boost.
If you are healthy, regular exercise can reduce the risk of infections by 33%. Even though exercise provides many benefits to immunity, it is important to exercise caution when exercising; if you are already sick, your body needs to rest! The treadmill and weight room will still be there once you are fully recovered!
Hit the Hay
Sleep is essential whether you are sick or healthy. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night so you can wake up feeling refreshed to fight whatever comes at you the next day.
Influenza is a respiratory illness that affects your lungs. Need I say more?
The Bottom Line
Your body knows best, and you should listen to it!
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, stay home! Stay hydrated and take the medication your doctor prescribes you, as they prescribed it to you!
Remember, different illnesses have different recovery times and different timelines for when you’re contagious; your doctor can give you more information on when it is appropriate to rejoin the land of the healthy and return to work.
Although there is no single method to that provides 100% protection from getting the flu, but a combination of healthy living and good hygiene practices can dramatically decrease your likelihood of catching this season’s flu or other illness.