Have you ever had a sore throat or runny nose, but didn’t feel bad enough to call in sick? Maybe you didn’t think it was worth it to take a sick day when you could drag a tissue box into the office and muscle through each meeting. If you don’t “feel” sick, does that mean you actually aren’t sick? Unfortunately, the answer is no. You might not “feel” sick, but you may be still be contagious. Your coworkers would much rather send you notes from the meeting than catch the virus you are inevitably passing around the office. Make sure you discover how sick you really are and how long you’re contagious before you head into work.
Common Winter Illnesses
- The common cold is—not surprisingly—the most common illness in the winter months. The official name is rhinovirus and it can be easily identified by a stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, and sneezing. It may be common because most people take their symptoms into their school or workplace without realizing they are contagious for as many as five days. While you may be able to work for the duration of your cold, it’s probably best to work from home.
- Influenza, known as the flu, peaks in January and February but can stretch into the spring as far as May. The flu is distinguished by fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, runny nose, and fatigue. Most people do not feel like getting out of bed with the flu which is a good thing because it is highly contagious. You are contagious for 1-7 days with the flu, so be cautious before you go back to work—even if you start feeling better. Because the flu is so miserable, your coworkers will be thankful you stayed away from the office.
- RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) is identified by a cough, a stuffy or runny nose, an earache, and a fever. RSV is especially dangerous for infants and older adults, so be considerate of your coworkers and their families. You are contagious with RSV for up to 8 days. Don’t take any chances in passing this virus along. You may put others at risk of developing an even more serious illness.
- The stomach flu is another common sickness that everyone seeks to avoid. Gastroenteritis is recognized by symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Most commonly spread from person-to-person, any indication of the stomach flu should absolutely keep you at home. In fact, you are contagious for up to 6 days with the stomach flu.
- Streptococcus, also known as strep throat, includes symptoms such as a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, swollen tonsils, fever, or even a headache. Many people will grab a bag of throat lozenges and sip on hot tea throughout the day while still managing to accomplish tasks on their to-do list. However, without medication, you are contagious for 21 days with strep throat. If you are treated for strep, you are only contagious for 24 hours after your treatment begins. The moral of this story is to take one sick day rather than infecting your office for the rest of the month.
- Pink eye is known in the medical field as conjunctivitis. Pink eye can be diagnosed with obvious symptoms such as redness or crusting around the eye, discharge from the eye, and itchiness. Easily transferred to others, pink eye is contagious for 3-7 days. Treatment is available and the sooner you can see a doctor, the better. Pink eye is difficult to mask and your coworkers will be grateful you haven’t brought this nasty virus into the office.
How To Avoid These Illnesses
If you know someone who is suffering from any of these common winter illness, be sure to avoid direct contact. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if you have been around someone who is contagious, and wash your hands frequently. Disinfect all commonly used items such as phones, keyboards, shared surfaces, and doorknobs. In the event of pink eye, do not share towels and be sure to wash towels and pillowcases at home. Many opt to get a flu shot in order to be better protected against the flu virus. If you experiences any of these symptoms, be considerate of your coworkers and as long as you’re contagious, stay home and rest.
If you or one of your family members have symptoms for any of these common winter illnesses, stop by one of our five TrustCare Express Medical Clinic locations. You will be seen by knowledgeable medical professionals of walk-in urgent medical care so we can help you Feel Better Faster.