Tis the season for influenza. The virus commonly known as the flu can affect people multiple times per year. When in close quarters, such as the workplace, the virus can wreak havoc on anyone who comes in contact with it. In fact, billions of germs are transferred or contracted in the workplace. Here are four simple ways to protect yourself in the workplace during flu season.
Wash Your Hands
The simple act of washing your hands (with soap, using plain water is as effective as not washing) can help reduce your chances of catching an infection or virus considerably. Correctly washing your hands with warm water and soap, then drying them completely can reduce the unintentional transfer of bacteria.
Coming into contact with faecal matter can cause severe illness and has even lead to death in some cases of diarrhoea. Washing your hands regularly can help lower the risk of both diarrhoea and intestinal issues such as intestinal worms. Regular hand washing also reduces the possibility of concocting bacterial eye infections like conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye. This an irritation of the eye causing severe itching and light sensitivity. Pink eye is painful and uncomfortable, and it is highly contagious.
By washing your hands regularly, you reduce the chances of developing an acute respiratory infection caused by pathogens – disease-producing bacteria. Once a person is exposed, they can become ill quickly. In fact, some of the pathogens linked to diarrhoea can also cause respiratory infection.
Sanitise Common Areas In The Workplace
Besides covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, it is important to sanitise common areas in the workplace. There is actually more bacteria on a keyboard than there is on a toilet seat: five times more to be exact.
Prioritising the sanitisation of shared spaces will reduce the chance of bacteria spreading through the workplace. Sanitising, however, is different from disinfecting. To sanitise is to reduce the presence of microorganisms, while to disinfect is to destroy or inactivate infectious bacteria. Using disinfecting chemicals such as bleach can significantly reduce the presence of bacteria — green or fragrance-free chemicals are better suited for the workplace. Employees should be encouraged to use a hand sanitiser when at their desk to greatly reduce the presence of both bacteria and germs.
Don’t Skip Meals
Although a time-tested fad, skipping meals can weaken the immune system, especially if skipping meals is a common practice. A lack of viable food in the system can lead to dehydration, a condition to which the body is without enough fluid to function, and also a deficiency in vital micronutrients. A weakened immune system leaves a person vulnerable to infection like influenza, coughs, and other viruses. Without the full support of a healthy immune system, the body cannot fight off invading viral infections without medicine. Compounded with other poor health habits like a lack of sleep, skipping meals can increase the possibility of viral infection.
No one enjoys being in the office when under the weather. Further more, no one should be. Sick leave exists, use it. Sick leave is provided by employers to help reduce the spreading of influenza in the workplace. Job responsibilities might make this challenging for the employee to execute, but execute it they should. If an employee is feeling ill, then the proper protocol for sick leave should be followed as soon as possible. This may leave offices short-handed but is far better than having zero bodies on the floor.
Get The Flu Vaccination
Despite the pushback against vaccinations in modern times, taking the vaccination for influenza — also known as the flu jab — or other flu strains, i.e. H1N1, can greatly reduce the chances of infection and by default, infecting others. In fact, studies have proven that the influenza vaccination is between 40 and 60 percent effective. It is common practice for large companies to offer the vaccination to full-time employees with medical benefits.
Take responsibility for individual action while holding the workplace accountable for a germ-free working environment. By taking care of your health, washing your hands regularly, applying antibacterial gels and avoiding the workplace when feeling ill, you can limit the spreading of viral causing bacteria. Schedule an appointment with your doctor when feeling flu-like symptoms coming on. Staying proactive about your health will reduce the possibility of catching and/or spreading the flu virus.
This is a content partnership between MyDoc and Lifestyle Collective to provide high-quality health content to our readers. MyDoc is a digital health brand that makes access to quality health easier and faster. This series is focused on educating people on general health topics. The information shared has been reviewed by third-party medical professionals.