Tuesday, February 2, 2016
There are times when people go into work when the best place for them is to remain home and warm, taking plenty of fluids and allowing their body to rest.
There are, however, many factors that drive us to work every day, from not wanting colleagues to think ill of us, to a project deadline looming and the dreaded sickness record that many companies now keep on every employee.
Making the decision of whether to go in or not should depend on the answer to this kind of question – am I suffering from something that is contagious?
From allergies to gastritis, there are many ailments that can strike and leave us feeling well below par. Although they are not contagious, the ability to work while feeling ill will depend on how badly an issue is impacting on us.
An allergy, for example, can manifest itself in the shape of a runny nose or itchy eyes but it can also lead to swelling, hives and so on. However, an allergy will not have an impact on your colleagues, so unless you are unable to do your work properly, there is no medical reason for you to stay at home.
Contagious illnesses are where the germ or infection can be passed from one person to another. There are all kinds of contagious illness, some more common than others:
The common cold
Caused by a virus, a common cold can be anything from a blocked, stuffy nose to sneezing, sore throat and headache. It can be spread from one person to another via sneezing, germs left on phone handsets, keyboards and so on.
Anyone coming down with a cold is contagious from around two to three days before its onset, and will remain contagious until the symptoms disappear. Unfortunately, we often think because ‘it is just a cold’, we should go to work.
Not only do we not function very well when we have a cold, we can also share the germs around the workplace and that's not something our colleagues will welcome. A day or two of rest and minimal exertion can mean beating the cold faster than if we went into work.
Tonsillitis or strep throat
This is a bacterial infection that becomes lodged in the back of the throat. You will feel very unwell and will probably also have a temperature. You may be given antibiotics and the advice here is clear – stay away from work. It will usually take 4 to 6 days to get back on your feet.
The cough is a reflex action by the body to rid the chest of debris and mucus. Until recent times, if we had a cough, we were recommended all kinds of cough medicines and so on.
There are different types of cough, such as dry, tickly ones that are not productive and ones that are ’wet’, bringing up phlegm and mucus.
Unless a high temperature accompanies the cough, it is possible to work. However, if you do have a temperature or are short of breath, it may be wise to stay away from work and seek medical help.
Any ailment that is accompanied by a high temperature is an indication that it is beyond a common disease or issue. Clearly, turning up to work with a fever is not a good idea. You will feel uncomfortable and may need medical help too.
Anything accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhoea
There are many things that can induce vomiting and diarrhoea as it is the way in which the body rids itself of toxins or bacteria that is harmful to it. Not all the reasons behind vomiting and diarrhoea episodes are contagious, but working in a crowded space whilst suffering the effects of both or either is not recommended for you or your colleagues.
The human body can also become dehydrated and thus, if you are suffering from vomiting or diarrhoea, staying home and warm, sipping on liquids is the right move.
For many colleagues, when someone has been in to work with a contagious ailment, protecting themselves against germs becomes a priority.
In many cases, increasing personal hygiene can ward off most bacterial infections. Thoroughly washing hands after visiting the toilet, using anti-bacterial wipes to clean shared keyboards and other equipment can all help too.
Even though we sometimes think we must go to work, the best course of action may be to stay away – after all, if we are doing ourselves or others more harm, then there’s no real benefit to struggling in.