Tips to Avoid Getting Sick at the Office
Despite your best efforts to avoid illness, it can be a challenge to stay well when your co-workers are sniffling, sneezing and coughing. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to help prevent picking up your colleagues’ germs.
“Preventing getting sick ultimately starts even before you walk into your workplace,” says Tiffany Lowe-Payne, DO, an osteopathic family physician in Raleigh, North Carolina. “The things that we do to stay active and healthy have been shown to be extremely effective against falling prey to the viruses and bacteria we are exposed to.”
Focusing on preventive care, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors impact your health. They are trained to listen and partner with you to help you not only get healthy, but stay well.
Dr. Lowe-Payne shares the following tips for staying healthy at work:
Wash Your Hands
Germs are present on virtually every surface you come in contact with at the workplace, including doors, faucets and water fountains. Since germs can remain alive on surfaces for to several hours, Dr. Lowe-Payne says frequent hand washing is a must.
Don’t Bite Your Nails
A common way to become infected with germs is to put your face directly in contact with viruses and bacteria. This is particularly important for “nail biters” under pressure, as the area under your nails is an ideal place for bacteria to thrive.
“When you bite your nails, it can easily transfer bacteria into your mouth and ultimately the rest of your body, making you sick,” says Dr. Lowe-Payne.
Get Some Fresh Air
When workplaces are not well ventilated, you breathe in air that is laden with virus- and bacteria-infected particles and become more susceptible to falling victim to illnesses.
Dr. Lowe-Payne suggests opening the windows, even if it’s cold outside, to allow fresh air to flow through the room. If your windows don’t open or you work in a windowless office, take a short walk outdoors.
Keep Your Workstation Clean
Wipe down your workspace occasionally throughout the day with a disinfectant cloth. Also consider positioning an air purifier near your desk to help filter the air and decrease circulating germs.
“During cold and flu season, the influenza vaccine is one of the best preventive measures you can take to avoid getting sick,” Dr. Lowe-Payne says.
Other vaccines, such as the TDAP booster, protect against the bacteria diphtheria and pertussis, which can cause whooping cough. Dr. Lowe-Payne also recommends getting the pneumonia vaccine if your immune system is suppressed or you are over the age of 65.