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Calling in Sick

Sick? When To Keep Your Germs at Home

The people that end up getting the rest of the office, class or group sick, too. With some illnesses, you can be viral and spread those illnesses to other people before you even show symptoms. But if you already have symptoms, or simply feel too unwell to get through daily duties, take some time off. This is especially important in the wake of one of the worst flu seasons in recent years.

There may be times when you’re not feeling your best, but are still well enough to get through a work day without compromising your health further. There are also some unfortunate situations where people simply can’t miss a work day. If either are the case, be sure to wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Additionally, try to keep yourself isolated, if possible, and wipe down any shared surfaces after touching them. This is more difficult when dealing with children, as their hygiene habits and abilities to stay isolated are largely dependent on their age and situation. That’s why it’s important to use your best judgment – and err on the side of caution – when your child is sick.

Some people think they can power through the day no matter what their symptoms or severity, and, and some simply don’t consider the fact that they could get others very sick. For the sake of your health and the health of those around you, don’t be one of those people. Ask yourself these questions to determine when you should stay home and take care of yourself:

  1. Did the signs and symptoms come on abruptly and include a fever? This is a pretty common indication that you could have the seasonal flu — especially if you neglected to get your flu shot. Even if you did get the flu shot, this year’s vaccination has shown to be only about 30% effective, so flu is still a strong possibility.
  2. Do you feel like you will have a difficult time functioning or performing at your normal level? Will your child be able to fully participate in the activities at school? If your symptoms make you uncomfortable, sleepy, or distracted, you won’t be able to fully focus. Remember that symptoms can increase as the day progresses, and pushing yourself at the early stages of illness can worsen them.
  3. Are you taking any medications that could impair your abilities? If you’re sick enough to require severe cold medications you should stay home. Remember that many over the counter medications as well as controlled substances (such as pain killers) can cause fuzzy thinking, and activities such as driving or operating machinery are not recommended.
  4. Finally, are you or your loved ones contagious? You may feel “okay”, but think about your coworkers or schoolmates. You wouldn’t want a congested, coughing co-worker to come in and potentially infect you, so don’t do the same to them. It’s better to just contain the illness instead of spreading it around the office or classroom.
 

Remember that a day of rest and hydration is often the best cure for illness. But if your symptoms point towards something more serious such as the flu, always call your doctor immediately. If you don’t have a primary care physician, El Camino Hospital can help. Find a doctor near you, or call 800-216-5556 for a referral to a primary care physician.

 

This article first appeared in the March 2018 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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