As summer turns into fall, your workplace will slowly but surely notice a rise in coughs, sneezes, and sniffles. But is this a passing by cold and fever? No, maybe not. These might be the initial symptoms of Influenza, commonly called “the Flu”. You will be surprised to know that the 2015 Influenza outbreak in India caused more than 1700 deaths.
Flu isn’t the same as the common cold- it is highly contagious and leaves you feeling dreadful. It is spread when infected people cough or sneeze and via surfaces that become contaminated by them.
Since office environment is a closed entity, it is very easy for the virus to spread. Thus it is imperative to prepare your office for flu season to maintain a healthy workforce throughout the fall.
Look out for its symptoms
Symptoms begin abruptly and show in full swing within a few days of infection. This includes fever with chills, cough, running nose, sore throat, severe headache, and body ache. Most of the flu cases last for five to seven days and recover spontaneously. However, there can be life-threatening consequences such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus or ear infections, especially in young children and people with weakened immune systems. This would require additional medical care or even hospitalization.
How to lower the risk of infection?
1. Respiratory droplets containing flu viruses may settle on surfaces in the vicinity of the infected person. Cleaning frequently touched surfaces like desks, keyboards, mouse, door handles, telephones, and microwave door is one way to cut down on the number of flu germs that are passed from one co-worker to another.
2. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread quickly from touching contaminated surfaces and then your face, giving a quick pathway to the germs to enter into your system.
3. Try to avoid close contact with people who are already down with flu. If you have it, protect others by covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, properly disposing used tissue and avoid shaking hands with your co-workers.
4. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water whenever possible, otherwise, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
5. Try to promote the influenza vaccination at your workplace. But if your workplace cannot arrange for a flu vaccination program, visit a doctor.
6. Make sure to get some fresh air by taking a break for atleast 10-15 minutes.
7. Place signs around your office with workplace hygiene reminders.
8. Lastly, to stay as healthy as possible, eat healthy food, manage your stress levels, get an adequate amount of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and be physically active.
What to do if you are infected?
The first and foremost thing to do is to visit a doctor to confirm it is Influenza. Another important thing is to give maximum rest to your body so that it gets enough time to fight against the virus. Also, try to stay away from others as much as possible to avoid infecting them. If you need to leave home, for any emergency, wear a face-mask if you have one, or cover when you cough and sneeze with a tissue. Also, taking over the counter painkillers may make you feel better.
The bottom line
Seasonal flu is indeed a potentially serious disease as it can cause widespread business disruptions by affecting your workplace. Do your best to prevent flu from spreading at your office this year with our tips listed above.