You know the drill – the Fall season means it’s time to pay closer attention to that sniffly nose or chest congestion, especially at work where the spread of illness is common. What’s more is that many times it can be difficult to decipher which respiratory illness you are experiencing, as the flu and common cold have similar symptoms. Why is that important to know? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations, but the flu can have very serious associated complications.

So, let’s dive into the issues and preventative care you can do today to avoid getting sick, keeping you – and your workplace – healthy.

Shoo, Flu

Now’s a great time to be talking about the flu – influenza activity often begins to increase in October and November. Flu symptoms can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). The CDC says that the flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death, but there are 3 things you can do to fight the flu:

  1. Take time to get the flu vaccine.
    • The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
    • While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
    • Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
    • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in their community. CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, if possible.
    • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
    • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
    • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.
  2. Take preventative measures everyday to help stop the spread of germs.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
    • If you are sick with flu symptoms, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
    • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
    • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics; they are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter.
    • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick and may also prevent serious flu complications.
    • Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high risk factor or is very sick from the flu.

Hit the Road, Cold

Did you know that common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work? Each year in the United States, the CDC reports millions of cases of the common cold, with adults having an average of 2-3 colds per year and children even more. Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu and generally do not result in serious health problems. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose with some chest congestion and nothing more. Here’s how to send that cold to the curb:

  1. Take small preventative measures throughout the day.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; viruses that cause colds can live on your hands, and regular hand-washing can help protect you from getting sick.
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and objects such as toys and doorknobs
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; viruses that cause colds can enter your body this way and make you sick.
  2. Protect others from catching your cold.
    • Sick people can spread viruses that cause the common cold through close contact with others.
    • Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.Stay at home while you are sick.
    • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette: always cough and sneeze into a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose.
  3. There is no cure or antibiotic for a cold.
    • To feel better, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
    • Over-the-counter medicines may help ease symptoms but will not make your cold go away any faster.
    • Call your doctor if you have one or more of these conditions:
      • A temperature higher than 100.4° F
      • Symptoms that last more than 10 days
      • Symptoms that are severe or unusual

Prevention and Treatment Video

As a safety consulting company, we are fortunate to work with several companies that understand the need for prevention, care, and awareness of sickness in the workplace, especially during the cold and flu season. One of our trusted partners – Vivid Learning Systems – is just one of those companies. Vivid works to deliver an effective, memorable training experience with training software that’s designed for smart simplicity.

That being said, we’d like to share with you a free 5 minute video presentation on what you can do to prevent contraction of and transmission of cold and influenza viruses, as well as actions to take if they become infected. Take a peek at what this course will cover:

  • Describe the route of exposure for both cold and flu viruses
  • List methods to reduce exposure and the effects of exposure to the common cold and influenza
  • List the benefits of an annual influenza vaccination
  • Describe high-risk people who should make an annual influenza vaccination a priority
  • Identify symptoms of infection
  • Describe the actions one should take if they feel sick
  • Recognize emergency warning signs of influenza-related illness

To watch, visit here:

Need training or more info on what to do in your workplace regarding illness? Give us a call to discuss your options… and stay healthy!