Regardless of when or how you get it, the seasonal cold or flu is no fun. Getting sick derails our productivity, puts a halt on our social life, and worst of all, if we’re around others at work, everyone just ends up sharing the misery.
According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, going into work sick, officially called ‘presenteeism,’ costs companies $160 billion a year in lost productivity. Every year, US. citizens get 50 million cases of the flu and catch about a billion colds, as reported by WebMD.
Luckily, there are some tips to keep you in the safety zone — and prevent others from getting sick too!
Tips to avoid getting the office cold
Call in sick
There is a time and a place for calling in sick — but it’s not when you just don’t feel like going into work.
Michael Zimring, an infectious disease expert at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, advises to stay home if you have a fever, chills, or sweats. ‘What I usually tell people is to stay home if you’re so weak you can’t get your head off the pillow,’ he says.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and also prevent the spread of disease and germs. Each of us touch our eyes, nose and mouth without even realizing it. According to the CDC, washing your hands reduces respiratory illnesses like colds by 16% to 21%.
How should you wash your hands? First, wet your hands with warm or cold clean, running, water. Then, later with soap, and scrub your hands for about 20 seconds. If you need a good reference point for hitting the 20 second mark, just sing the happy birthday song. Rinse you hands, then dry them with a clean towel.
Disinfect your desk
Disinfecting your desk and phone, as well as regularly sanitizing your hands using hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of germs. A good option: Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes are $5.49 on Amazon, just $.08 per wipe.
Experts agree that the more fruits and vegetables we add into our diets, (and subsequently the more vitamins and minerals we take in), the healthier we will be. Protect yourself against colds and flu viruses by eating healthier and building your immune system. This study actually found which diet is actually best for your health.
Get the flu shot
Though some swear to never get the flu shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available. Getting the flu shot can cut the risk of H1N1 and influenza B by 60% to 75%.
Read more: Researchers: Flu vaccine has a weak link
Can taking vitamins fight off illness?
According to WebMD, experts agree that popular natural cold and flu remedies appear to be safe for the average person. But, experts also warn about the dangers of overdosing on supplements. If you take too many vitamins, they can build up in your system and cause toxicities if you take more than 100% of the daily recommended value. There is also conflicting evidence on the effectiveness of certain vitamins to prevent and treat colds and the flu.
For example, vitamin C has historically been used as a treatment for the common cold, but studies on its effectiveness are varied. While some research shows that even very high doses have no effect, other studies have found vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold by 24 to 36 hours.
Doctors and nutritionist point to maintaining a healthy diet, and getting vitamins and minerals from food sources first.