#15 – Staying Healthy at Work

Everyone is important. When you are scheduled to work and you’re not here, it’s a hardship on everyone. You get colds and flu through the intake of viruses in moisture droplets released in sneezes, coughing, or talking.

Colds (The average person has 2-4/year that usually last about 5 days)
1. Avoid colds and flu by:
a. Colds are not caused by exposure to cold, wetness, or drafts. During winter, people are crowded together and viruses pass around easier.
b. Reduce your response to stress. Working at HealthPark is stressful. High stress depresses your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to colds.
c. Go to bed at a regular time nightly and get 8 hours of rest.
d. Wash your hands frequently at work – even secretaries. This is the primary way colds are spread. Viruses live on surfaces for days.
e. Don’t rub your eyes or put your fingers (or nails) in your mouth.
f. Eat well – less junk food, more fruit and vegetables.
g. Limit – or eliminate – caffeine.
h. Take 1000 – 2000mg of Vitamin C daily.
i. Exercise regularly.
j. Don’t smoke.
k. Avoid shaking hands.
l. Do not bite your nails.
m. Clean keyboards and telephones frequently.
n. Avoid close contact with sick people.
o. Stay home when you are sick.

2. When you feel a cold coming on:
a. You will infect others 1 day before you feel the symptoms and 5 days after the first day.
b. Cold viruses are mainly transmitted by hands
1. Telephones are the worst transmitters
2. Wash hands well, often, or use wipes
c. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into your arm (not your hand)
d. Stay 3 feet away from others when you can (maximum distance a cold virus can travel)

3. Treating a cold:
a. Drink lots of fluids.
Best choice – hot chicken soup
Lemon tea is very good
Avoid caffeine
b. A vaporizer creates moist heat for you to breath, reduces irritation in your nose and throat.
c. Take an antihistamine to relieve a stuffy nose (over the counter is good).
d. Increase the humidity in the air if you have a humidifier on your furnace.
e. Rest if you need to – it’s okay to work, but don’t push yourself.
f. Ibuprofen, Tylenol for aches/pains
g. Drink 8 ounces of water ever 2 hours (thins mucous, rehydrates you if you have a fever).
h. Antibiotics – won’t help fight a virus
i. Zinc gluconate lozenges every 4 hours from the first symptoms shorten the cold 1-3 days
j. Chicken soup or any hot liquid thins mucous and reduces congestion.
k. If your body aches, take diphenylhydramine – an antihistamine that will help your sleep. Try Benadryl Allergy and Cold
Sore Throat
Most sore throats are caused by a virus and will clear up in a few days with no medication. However, if the sore throat persists, it could be caused by an allergy. After 3-4 days, see your physician. While you are waiting for your throat to clear up, here are some suggestions.

1. Use a vaporizer for 10-15 minutes. The steam reduces inflammation and clears excess mucous.
2. Dyclonine eases soreness better and for longer (Sucrets throat spray)
3. Gargle with 1-teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water 3 times per day.
4. Sip warm liquids. (at least 6 glasses/day – 8 ounces each)
a. Lemon tea is good
Make hot tea and squeeze in a lemon wedge or a few drops of lemon concentrate.
If you are brave, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder for the lemon.
b. Milk products are bad – they build mucous
5. Suck on sugarless candy to increase saliva.
6. A severe sore throat may be a strep throat, which is caused by bacteria, and responds to antibiotics – see your physician.

1. Acetominophen easiest on stomach
2. Don’t give aspirin to children – could cause Reyes sysndrome

Read the labels on the cough medicine closely. There are 2 types of coughs and they require different medications.

1. Cough producing phlegm – guaifenesin (loosens mucous) – Robitussin
2. Cough that’s dry, irritability – dextromethorphan (helps you sleep) Benelyn, Robitussin DM
Chlor-Trimeton will cause less drowsiness if you are at work.

1. Once liquids are staying down, try, bananas, white rice, applesauce and toast.

The flu is much more serious than a cold. The number 1 (and 2 and 3) preventative is your flu shot which is provided annually by HealthPark at no cost to you. The flu shot does not make you more likely to get the flu. It does reduce, but not eliminate your chances of getting the flu and, if you do, the symptoms will be milder.

It’s easy to tell the difference between a cold and the flu.

Onset Gradual, mild Sudden, severe
Fever None or mild 102 or higher
Chills Only with fever Common
Aches, pains Mild Often intense
Headache Slight, if any Prominent
Fatigue Mild Extreme
Runny nose Common Occasional
Sore throat Occurs early, lasts 1-2 days Common, worse by day 2 or 3
Cough Moderate, if any Sometimes severe

Ideas to reduce symptoms:

1. Aches and pains
a. Aspirin should never be given to anyone under the age of 20.
b. Tylenol won’t upset your stomach.
2. Flu symptoms
a. Physician prescribed antiviral medications are helpful if started quickly.
b. Echinacea
3. Get lots of rest
4. Drink lots of fluids, especially water and fruit juices (8 oz per hour)
5. A vaporizer will reduce congestion.
6. Antibiotics are useless
7. Chicken soup does help.
8. A warm to cool bath will help to lower a temperature.
9. Ibuprofen/Tylenol can be used for a temperature above 100. If it spikes above 104, see your doctor.

Ideas to protect others:

1. Cover your nose/mouth when coughing/sneezing
2. Use disposable tissues not handkerchiefs
3. Wash your hands often

Avoid Bad Health Information:

There is lots of information on health care available today-from Oprah, to online, to friends, magazines, TV, etc. etc. Here is how John Swartzberg, M.D. recommends that you find out what is true as you are reading:
1. “May” doesn’t mean “Will.”
2. A single study doesn’t “prove” anything.
3. “Breakthrough” is a major event following years of documented research. The polio vaccine was a breakthrough. Today, most “breakthroughs” you see are just hype.
4. “Increases the risk of” doesn’t mean “causes.”
5. All “studies” aren’t as good
a. “Study” means nothing
b. Lab study or human study (best)
c. Number of participants and for how long (1-2 years best)
6. “Peer reviewed” research is likely accurate
7. Types of research
a. Basic science research-conducted on animals in a lab-results can’t be expected to be the same
as in humans
b. Epidemic studies-distribution of disease and risk factors for diseases in humans-results show associations, not cause/effect
c. Clinical trials-observe effectiveness of therapies