You’re coughing, sneezing, and sniffling, but you have stuff to get done. Now, while going into the office or powering up with caffeine to get you through the day might seem foolish, you’re actually prolonging that miserable cold and risking the health of your healthy coworkers.
Here are the nine most foolish actions committed by sick people…
1. You’re Convinced You Know Best
Despite the recommendations of professional doctors, many of us (I’m not pointing fingers) believe we know best despite the lack of a medical degree. For instance, you may think you have a secret remedy to blast the cold virus faster. However, according to the experts at Medical News Today, most self-prescribed remedies won’t cure a cold faster and they may actually cause a cold infection to linger a few days longer than usual.
2. You Demand Antibiotics
Research published in the British Medical Journal warns that’s there ain’t no cure for the common cold. For this reason, rushing to your doctor demanding a prescription for antibiotics won’t do you any good. Sure, you might lesson the symptoms, but the common cold is viral (unlike a bacterial infection), meaning it can’t be cured with antibiotics, stop you from being contagious, or help you feel better any faster.
3. You Recycle Old Antibiotics
Put down those 6-month old drugs! Just because you have leftover antibiotics from a previous illness doesn’t mean the same drugs will cure your cold or flu. Not only is self-medicating dangerous—if you’re taking existing drugs for a sinus infection, taking more may cause adverse effects. Plus, overdoing medications can suppress an infection and confuse the test results of bacterial cultures to come back negative when you are, in fact, sick.
4. You Go to Work Sick
I don’t have to tell you that your workplace is a Petri dish of germs come cold and flu season. It’s no surprise that microbiology experts at the University of Arizona found that contagions can spread rampantly to over 60-percent of a building’s inhabitants within a period of 4-hours! Scientists tracked the spread of a type of Norovirus organism, which tested positive on desk tops, computers, keyboards, phones, doorknobs, kitchen surfaces, and tabletops throughout an office building within 8-hours.
5. You Power Up with Caffeine
Sure, a mug of coffee or 2 can help you get through a busy morning, but if you’re sick and use caffeinated beverages to power through your day (i.e., caffeinated teas, energy drinks, and coffee) you’re only prolonging your illness. The common cold and flu needs 2 things to recover—rest and fluids (preferably the un-caffeinated kind). Too much caffeine will zap hydration stores, which you need to push the illness out of your body.
6. You Misuse Cold & Flu Remedies
No matter if you’re prescribed an antibiotic for a sinus infection or using an over-the-counter decongestant and pain reliever for the flu—you can only use so much and for so long without causing “rebound illness,” which causes the return of more severe symptoms (i.e., congestion and inflammation). This is why it’s vital to listen and follow the directions of your doctor and the pharmacist.
7. There She Blows!
When you’re congested with a cold, you might blow and blow with no relief in sight. If you’re nasal passages are running a never-ending flood of mucous, giving your nose a good blow might temporarily drain your schnozzle. However, blowing too often and too hard may drive nasal fluid (along with viruses and bacteria) back up into your sinus cavities, prolonging your illness.
8. You Overdo the Cold Remedies
Antihistamines, pain relievers, cough syrup, and decongestant sprays are readily available over the counter, but the National Institutes of Health caution that you can overdo cold treatments and actually make your symptoms worse. Keep in mind that many cold and flu remedies take 30-minutes to an hour to start working. So resist the urge to overload your body with cold meds, causing rashes, liver damage, and lessening your body’s natural flu-fighting abilities.
9. You Smoke While Sick
What are you thinking lighting up while coughing, wheezing, and suffering with a cold or flu? Infectious disease specialists agree that smoking exacerbates the symptoms of a cold, drying out and irritating your sinus cavities and throat, and damaging your lungs. Even secondhand smoke will prolong your illness.