They're called sick days for a reason: Why you need to stay home

September 6, 2018 Swedish Blogger

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  • If you go to the office when you're sick, your quality of work will suffer.
  • You're also more likely to say sick longer and infect your coworkers.
  • If you must work, take steps to get healthy again and not spread germs.

You've got a runny nose, a cough and a rising fever. You've also got a big presentation to work on at the office, so you decide to down some cold medicine and hope for the best. Unfortunately, going into work sick is usually a bad call not just for you, but for your coworkers, too.

Feeling poorly? Your work will reflect that

You may think it's easier to just power through the work day with a cold or flu, but that's usually not the case. Working instead of resting can greatly increase the duration of your sickness because you're not taking the time to relax and let your body heal. If you can't shake that sickness, then you'll have to take time off work anyways--and maybe even more than you would have had to in the first place.
Odds are, you won't be in top form if you're sick on the job. Your productivity and efficiency can suffer when you are ill, and that can result in low-quality job

performance. For instance, think about going into work after you've spent a sleepless night dealing with a head cold. A lack of sleep has been shown to slow down cognitive function, meaning you're more likely to work at a slower pace--and make more mistakes while doing so. 

In some cases, not calling in sick can be a risky move. For instance, some cold medicines can make you drowsy, which could be a problem if you have to drive during a long commute to work or you have to operate machinery on the job. If you try to survive the day on cold supplements in the hopes of boosting your flagging immune system, the jury's still out on how helpful they are, and you run the risk of side effects if you take too much of them.

Dr. Elizabeth Meade explains when you should visit the ER versus urgent care or staying at home if you think you have the flu: 

Give your coworkers a break

Of course, you are not the only one affected when you decide to forego a sick day. Whether it's coughing without covering your mouth or opening the conference room door without washing your hands, it's easy to spread cold and flu germs. That's especially true in the often confined spaces of the typical office, where there usually aren't windows you can open for ventilation.

Once you get your cubicle mate sick, it's may only be a matter of time before other co-workers fall like dominoes to the same sickness, thereby slowing down operations in the entire office. Who knows, if the other members of your team get sick, that may even create more work for you. Coming into work sick may even be dangerous for coworkers who can't afford to get sick because they are pregnant or have compromised immune systems. At the very least, you may get the side eye from office mates who resent you coming into work with the risk that it could spread.

So what should you do?

Ideally, your best course of action is to take that sick day so you can stay home and get better without spreading the cold or flu around. There are, of course, instances where that's not possible, whether you've run out of sick days or you don't have a job that pays for time off; and unfortunately, there are places where the corporate culture frowns on being out of the office. 

In those cases, it's best to take care of the cold as quickly as possible. Swedish Express Care can help treat you and get you back on your way to good health with a variety of options, including urgent care facilities and Express Care clinics conveniently located at pharmacies. You can even request a home visit via Swedish Express Care at Home or see a provider from your tablet, smartphone or computer via Swedish Express Care Virtual.

If you are under the weather when you go to the office, practice basic precautionary measures such as washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and covering your mouth and nose with the crook of your elbow when you sneeze and cough so you don't spread germs. Finally, to return to full strength faster, incorporate these preventive actions into your daily routine. That way, not only will you be restored to good health, you'll be more likely to avoid getting sick if your coworker comes in one day with a telltale sneeze.

Book an appointment online at Swedish Primary Care. Get seasonal flu shot reminders for your kids with Circle by Swedish, the free app filled with resources and answers to questions about raising healthy kids, available for your smartphone in Google Play and the Apple App Store

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Can you overdose on cold supplements?
10 kid tips for avoiding back-to-school germs

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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