Best Way to Stay Healthy? Call In Sick

Best Way to Stay Healthy? Call In Sick

Clocking into work when you’re sick doesn’t just spread disease—it can affect how well you recover from future illness.

Next time you get a sore throat and sniffles, here's how to avoid can't-get-out-of-bed misery later: Stay home.

Clocking into your job when you don’t feel well could be especially dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic, since you risk infecting colleagues, clients and customers.

But there’s another good reason to stick around the house. Research shows that workers who go in sick are much more likely to get knocked flat by a nastier bout of illness down the road.

Sick at work
In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, people who went to work while ill at least six times within the previous year were 74 percent more likely to need extended sick leave later on—as much as two or more weeks off over the next 18 months.

Why is punching the clock when you're sick so bad? Researchers speculate that when you don't take time to rest and recuperate, your body gets more and more run down—to the point where it can't keep a little illness from ballooning into big trouble.

Healthy solutions
Sometimes, you might feel like you don't have time to be ill. Or maybe you don't have the luxury of sick days. But during the pandemic, it’s critical that you stay home if you feel unwell. Call your boss with the news and speak with your healthcare provider (HCP) about your symptoms—they can help diagnose and treat your illness. If you are found to have COVID-19, rest up, isolate yourself from others in your home and follow all your HCP’s directions.

If you are found to have a cold or the flu, consider the following:

  • Try evidence-based home remedies. Using a humidifier, drinking plenty of water and taking over-the-counter medications are among the proven ways to find relief from cold and flu symptoms. You can’t go wrong with chicken soup, either.
  • Get adequate sleep. A good night’s rest can boost your immune system and help you recover from being sick. Most healthy adults should shoot for seven to nine hours each night. 

Want to sidestep getting sick in the first place? Work toward a healthy lifestyle: Eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of physical activity and managing stress can contribute to a stronger immune system. Remember to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. During the pandemic, follow social distancing and masking guidelines, too.

Finally, don’t forget your annual flu shot. It can lower your risk of catching the flu, reduce the severity of symptoms if you do become ill and ease the burden on HCPs who are dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Medically reviewed in February 2020. Updated in September 2020.

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