Do I Have the Flu or a Cold?
Should I go to work or drive when I am sick?
By: Meagan Baron
November 5, 2019
It is cold and flu season again…Unfortunately. What does that mean in your world? Many people are going into work, school, and grocery stores sick, spreading germs that you could potentially get. What is even scarier than getting sick is the fact that driving sick is like driving drunk, and millions of people who are feeling gross and looking and sounding like they have the plague are driving on US roads every day—roads that you and your family and friends could be on.
According to Edgar Snyder & Associates, presenteeism is a HUGE problem these days—employees are going to work when they are too ill, and it is costing businesses millions of dollars each year in lost productivity. In addition, pushing health past its limits is seen in other areas, such as running errands and going to school. People are running to the grocery store and doing chores at home when they should be resting because they feel that if they don’t, things won’t get done. Students are going to school because they think that they cannot afford to miss any class time. What does that mean to you and others out on the road? People are over-exhausting themselves, their bodies are not on their A game, and they are still driving.
Driving while sick impairs your ability to concentrate, and impacts your decision making behind the wheel. Halfords, a British parts retailer, and Marmalade Insurance conducted research on sick driving (taking in account factors like speed, braking, and acceleration), and found that sick drivers have slow reaction times and are less alert. Their study of test vehicles with record driving metrics hookups showed that there was a 50% decrease in concentration when comparing drivers with flu-like symptoms to ones with no symptoms.
No one wants to get into a car accident. Everyone wants to be healthy. What can you do to help avoid car accidents and spreading sickness? Mosaic Insurance Alliance finds that a great place to start is having a refresher on what to do so that you can prevent getting sick, what the common cold flu symptoms are in case you think you are sick, and what you can do to help avoid spreading germs to others if you come down with something.
Precautions to take to limit your chances of getting sick:
Workplaces and schools can be germ factories. They are both spaces that you will be in for hours and hours at a time around many different people—coworkers, customers, classmates, etc. They are also environments where you share all kinds of things from kitchen items to door handles, and pass objects like papers along to one another. Other places that commonly have germs are public areas like stores, busses, and hospitals.
Some things that can help you avoid getting sick include:
- Wash your hands often and efficiently. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled a list of when you should wash your hands. Additionally, they recommend scrubbing your hands with plenty of soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing.
- Avoid touching areas that are likely dirty if you can. For example, avoid direct contact with the toilet handle by holding toilet paper when you flush. Also, turn off sink faucets and open doors with a clean paper towel when leaving the bathroom after washing your hands.
- Use disinfectant wipes before using a shopping cart at the store. Many grocery stores have wipe dispensers at their front doors ready for you to wipe down the handles.
- Avoid touching your mouth and eyes. You don’t want to spread germs to places like your face where they have an easier time infecting your body.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick. Talking face-to-face, sharing food, sharing objects, and sitting in close proximities to a sick person increases your chances of getting sick.
- Have hand sanitizer ready. Have a bottle in your office, car, backpack, and purse. You never know when you might need it! It is great to use after using the gas pumps or touching other items that countless people touch every day.
- Practice self-care. Many researchers, including The American Psychological Association, have found that stress and negative emotions can weaken your immune system. So, in addition to practicing good hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of liquids, make it a top priority to avoid high-stress situations and take care of yourself emotionally. You want your immune system to be ready to fight off infections. Consult a doctor for guidance on what you should do to make sure your body is in the best of health.
What are cold and flu symptoms?
According to CDC, Healthline, and Tylenol, common cold and flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Body aches
In addition, CDC has a little guideline for taking care of someone who is sick, which includes immediate medical care symptoms in addition to helpful steps to take.
How to not spread germs when you are sick:
If you do happen to get sick, you can take steps to get better sooner and not pass it onto others.
To avoid spreading germs:
- Stay at home. Avoid going to work, school, and public places. If you have to go somewhere, keep to yourself.
- Be aware of your tissues. There will be many used tissues…in your garbage can only (hopefully). Make sure that you have plenty to use whenever you need them and that after each use, they go directly in the trash. Do not store used ones in pockets or leave them on counters. Have clean tissues ready in case you need to sneeze or cough.
- Keep other dirty items contained. In addition to making sure that tissues are going directly in the trash, be aware of what you do with other items that you touch after you use them. For example, do not leave cough drop wrappers, dishes, and other things that are dirty and/or have germs all over the place where others may touch them.
- Avoid touching items that others touch. Avoid touching things like door handles, microwave doors, kitchen drawers, other people’s computers at work, phones that others use, etc.
- Let others know that you are sick so that they can avoid touching things that you frequently touch, such as your computer, cell phone, and pens.
- Sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. DO NOT sneeze into your hand. If you accidently sneeze into your hand, wash your hands right away.
- Always cover your coughs. Coughing into tissues is a good way to keep germs confined. DO NOT cough into your hands.
- Wear a mask when going to the doctor’s office. They are easily accessible in the lobby area.
How to get over a cold faster:
- Stay at home and rest. See if others in your house can take over the chores that you usually do (at home and outside errands) so that you can give your body a chance to heal as well as not spread germs.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Be aware of your symptoms and act accordingly. Keep track of your fever and consult a doctor on what to do for your different symptoms. They can give you professional advice on medications and what to keep an eye on.
We all get sick. The best thing for us to do is rest up so that we are back to our old selves and others do no get sick. If you are a boss or a teacher, keep in mind that having a leader that understands and cares about the health of others will lead to an overall healthier atmosphere—less germs and a better environment that will continue to grow stronger…together.