5 ways to avoid getting sick at work

5 ways to avoid getting sick at work

Sniffling, sneezing, coughing – these seem to be the typical sounds heard in the background of offices this time of year.

While it might seem inevitable that you’ll pick up your co-workers’ germs, there are things you can do to stay well at work.

“Preventing illness begins even before you step foot in the office by making your health a priority year-round,” says Dr. Jennette Berry, a family medicine physician at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, IL.

To help you stay healthy this cold and flu season, Dr. Berry suggests the following tips:

Wash your hands: From the copy machine to the bathroom door, germs seem to be present on virtually every surface at the workplace. “Germs can remain active on surfaces for several hours so be sure to frequently wash your hands,” Dr. Berry says.

Get vaccinated: Getting the flu shot is one of the best preventive measures to avoid getting sick. “People often worry if they didn’t get a flu shot in the fall that it’s too late. However, there’s still time to get the shot and reap the benefits for the remainder of winter,” Dr. Berry says.

Skip nail biting: The area under your nails is a common place for bacteria to hang out. When biting your nails, that bacteria can easily transfer into your mouth and make you sick.

Take a walk at lunch: Breathe in some fresh air away from the bacteria-infected particles floating around the office. As a bonus, even a quick 15-minute walk outside can count toward your cardio for the day.

Keep your hands to yourself: Put etiquette aside and skip shaking hands. If someone asks, you can explain you’re trying to help prevent spreading germs in the office.

In the event you do get sick, Dr. Berry suggests keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer on your desk and using it each time after you blow your nose. Also be sure to regularly disinfect commonly used objects on your desk to avoid spreading germs, including your phone and computer.

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  1. It looks funny to some co-workers, but I never touch doors/handles without using a paper towel, napkin, etc. Why? Well because of germs in general and more than half of the co-workers I see in the office leaving the restroom either don’t wash their hands at all or pretend to wash their hands. Yes, pretend. Turn the water on for half a second then quickly shut it off and walk out. I once saw someone just rub 2 fingers together under running water with no soap and they worked in IT touching everyone’s computers and phones…wow.

About the Author

Vicki Martinka Petersen
Vicki Martinka Petersen

Vicki Martinka Petersen, health enews contributor, is a digital copywriter on the content team at Advocate Aurora Health. A former newspaper reporter, she’s worked in health care communications for the last decade. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys tackling her to be read pile, trying new recipes, meditating, and planning fun activities to do in the Chicago area with her husband and son.