Stay away, Sicko.

by | Jun 14, 2013 | Environmental health | 5 comments

It’s that time of year: snot-ridden, cough-laden cold and flu season.

As a result, do you know what I’m seeing a lot of? Sick people. In the clinic, yes, that’s to be expected. But everywhere else too… at the shops, on public transport, in offices and schools, at the movies… they’re everywhere! Everywhere, that is, except where they should be, which is at home convalescing.

My friends, when you are sick, STAY AT HOME*. You will not get better – or it will take you much longer to do so – if you do not allow yourself the time to heal. Seriously, no heroics necessary. You are not a hero if you come to work when you’re ill and infectious. You are annoying and inconsiderate. When it comes to contagion, sharing is most certainly not caring.

Ideally, you are practicing preventative health – eat well, drink fluids, get sunshine, move regularly, sleep enough, etc. Even better if you can take things to boost your immune function when you know you’re ‘at risk’ of picking something up. For example, I work in a busy medical clinic where I am constantly exposed to people with all sorts of infectious (and non-infectious) conditions, particularly at this time of year. Apart from eating well and upping my intake of immune boosting foods, I also take a regular dose of zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D (my levels tend to low) plus a herbal immune tonic. Sometimes, however, I catch a bug. It happens to all of us. And when I do? I choose not to inflict it on my co-commuters, colleagues and – importantly for me – patients. I rest, I recover quickly and I return to work. From my observation of of the population, however, it seems that this is not usual practice.

I was in Melbourne for a course recently and there was a TV at the foot of the bed in my hotel room (don’t even get me started on the sleep hygiene issues with that). We don’t have a TV at home, so I’m mostly immune to television advertising… and I was amazed at the number of advertisements selling quick-fixes for colds and flus. Pop a pill to mask symptoms of illness and, to borrow a catch phrase, soldier on. Well, I call bullsh*t! Why soldier on? To prove you’re tough, that you’re really committed to your job? So you can deliver a sub-par quality of work because your head is clogged and energy in your boots? Or is it so you can spread the germs around? Give me a break.

Listen, if you are starting to get a tickle in your throat and your head is heavy or nose blocked… talk to someone like me about how to intervene before you’re properly ill. And if you are properly ill, by all means come and see me in my place of work, but please stay away from your own.

*steps off soap box*


* A visit to your naturopath / GP / preferred practitioner is the exception – this is an outing to nurture you health that should also, hopefully, be brief so you can get straight back to bed.