You’re willing. You’re ready. But are you able? Or perhaps, more importantly, should you?

Even the healthiest individuals can get sidelined by the occasional sickness. As much as you would like to go to work as usual (understandably, so as not to disappoint your co-workers), there are instances wherein you are better off calling in sick and staying at home to get some much-needed rest and sleep.

Why you’re better off staying at home

One thing that many people often forget when thinking about going to work while sick is that it is almost always never just about them.

Think about it. You’re sick. You’re probably contagious. There is a high risk that you could infect your co-workers. Worse, if you have a front-facing role in the team, you could even infect your customers.

Diseases often incubate without the infected person manifesting symptoms. More often than not, however, a sick person is most infectious when he feels sickest.

At this point, you may be unknowingly infecting other people through sneezing, coughing, or by touching different surfaces. You only stop being contagious when you have fully recovered from your disease.

So should you or shouldn’t you?

It is best to stay home from work if you have a fever or a bad cough. It is also probably best to stay home if you are taking medications that make you drowsy, especially if your job involves operating machines. Finally, do not go to work if you are experiencing muscle pains and tiredness.

How to avoid infecting other people

But what if you simply cannot avoid going to work? In this case, the first order of business is to do what you can to avoid spreading your illness.

Although it is impossible to eliminate the risk of infecting others, there are a few measures that you can implement to reduce that risk.

  • If you are coughing or sneezing, avoid doing so into your hand. Instead, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • If possible, avoid contact with other people. Reschedule meetings and confine yourself in your office. If you have a front-facing job, ask your supervisor if you can work at the back of the house instead of the front lines.
  • Consider wearing a mask to limit the spread of respiratory droplets that you emit when you sneeze or cough.
  • Be mindful of your hands, which can be one of the critical factors when it comes to spreading disease. Wash your hands every time you cough or sneeze or, alternatively, use a hand sanitizer. Avoid touching different surfaces as much as possible. If you cannot avoid it, wipe the surfaces that you touch.

Surviving the workday

When you are sick, your body is trying to tell you to get home and get some rest. But if you cannot cut your workday short, here are a few things that you can do while at work to make your day more bearable when you have a cough or another disease.

  • Bring your cold or cough medication with you and follow the prescription. Ideally, you should drink medicine that does not make you drowsy.
  • Apart from your medicine, you should bring along a few other supplies. These include tissues and a hand sanitizer.
  • Remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Apart from water and juices, you may also want to try consuming hot soup and drinking warm lemon water to help you get some relief. As much as possible, avoid drinking beverages that contain caffeine.
  • Do not skip meals. Even if things get busy and you are tempted to skip a meal, do your best to eat something, even just a little. There are certain types of food that you can eat when you have coughs or colds.
  • As much as possible, pace yourself. Inform your managers and co-workers that you may need to take short breaks just to give yourself a breather.
  • Once the workday has ended, go straight home and take your much-needed rest. You’ll be able to recover faster and go through the next workday easier if you are well-rested. Also, remember to take your medications.

You can succumb to diseases when you least expect it. Ideally, you should stay home to rest and recover and to prevent infecting other people, especially your co-workers and customers. But if you have no other choice but to head to the office, following these tips can help.