Raghav Nehru, M.D.

Sick days are no vacation. Americans spend most of their time at work, and it’s easy to get sick or catch a virus in close quarters. Viruses can live up to 2 hours or more on hard surfaces, such as doorknobs, your desk or telephone. If you then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose before washing your hands, the viruses or bacteria can cause an infection. Here are 5 things you can do to prevent yourself and coworkers from getting sick.

1. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer on your desk or with you at all times. After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose, wash your hands or rub sanitizer into them until they are dry. Clean your hands after using public transportation or conference room equipment.

When soap and water aren’t available, use alcohol-based throwaway hand wipes or gel sanitizers. Those that work contain at least 60% alcohol. If using a gel, rub it into your hands until they are dry. Moreover, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands.

2. Keep your work surface clean. Use a household disinfectant to wipe down your desk, keyboard, mouse, telephone, and other objects you touch often. Follow the directions on the label. Also, keep tissues on your desk, and cough or sneeze into a tissue. If possible, don’t use coworkers’ offices, desks, or supplies. If you must use them, wipe them down with disinfectant first.

3. Take a proactive approach to your health. Get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in your area. It is very important to continue scheduling your regular wellness visits. During these visits, you should feel free to discuss any of your concerns, such as sexual health and any domestic or interpersonal violence with your health care provider. You should also ensure that you get your blood pressure checked and that you are up-to-date with your immunizations.

4. Stay at home if you feel sick. Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, chills, cough or sore throat. Other symptoms include runny nose, headache, fatigue, diarrhea, and vomiting. Contact your healthcare provider to find out whether you should be tested or treated for the flu.

You should stay at home until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Also, if you have a family member who has the flu but you feel well, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is safe to go to work.

5. Drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet! It is recommended to drink eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. There are plenty of food that are good sources of water as well like watermelon, oranges and apples.

It’s also important to start your day with a healthy breakfast. It’s okay to wait an hour or two before eating. Make sure to schedule in a time to eat if you will be at work or busy with errands. The key is to plan your breakfast. If your office always has doughnuts or muffins in the morning, try talking to your coworkers or managers about changing this! Maybe you can convince the office to order healthier items like a fruit tray.

You can also compromise by keeping the food in the break room or conference room. People often make healthier decisions when the unhealthy choice is out of sight. Lastly, try to bring a healthy a lunch to work instead of buying lunch off the dollar menu. You will consume less calories and save money.

Click here to learn more ways of staying healthy at work in Touro’s Health Library.

Dr. Raghav Nehru specializes in Internal Medicine at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. After earning his medical degree from Ross University in Dominica, Dr. Nehru completed residency at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Nehru values the patient/physician relationship as it is the foundation of medical care. He has special interest in preventive care and empowering patients to live a healthier lifestyle.

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