Many of us are familiar with that groggy feeling associated with the common cold - when the back of your throat begins to itch, the sneezing starts and your nose runs like a tap for days on end. Depending on the immune system of the individual, the severity of the common cold can vary with certain symptoms resolving themselves within a few days whilst others last a couple of weeks. At its worst, this monster can take over your body, leaving you feeling feverish, weak and unable to perform standard tasks properly without a Kleenex to hand.
For this reason, many believe they may have influenza (most commonly known as flu) and call in sick. Reports show that almost 8 million working days are lost each year in the UK due to 'flu related' absences. So is flu really that rampant in the UK? Recent news suggests that, on average, adults over the age of 30 will suffer from flu twice in a decade. Children, on the other hand, are more susceptible due to their undeveloped immune system but it is easy to think that you are suffering from flu when in fact it's just a really bad case of the common cold. This is due to the flu-like respiratory symptoms associated with both ailments.
On the other hand, due to these symptom similarities, some may not even realise they even have flu - it may even require a blood test for the infection to become apparent. There has been an increased push towards encouraging eligible for the flu vaccination to take it up, resulting in less individuals contracting the bug compared to two decades ago. Whilst the vaccine is clearly effective, the body can also work efficiently by providing natural defences when it is attacked by bacteria or these particular viruses. This results in the unwanted symptoms that we experience (e.g. coughing and fever) which actually confirm that the illness is getting better. In fact, it's these symptoms that help to clear the breathing passages of mucus, circulate germ killing proteins around the infected area, and helps to carry germs away from the body.
You may think it's unacceptable take a day off work for a cold rather than flu, but why should flu be the only sinus related ailment worthy of time off? Why shouldn't a severe case of the common cold warrant the same rest as that of its more serious counterpart, especially seeing as the symptoms are very similar? This is a topic left open for debate; the idea that flu is more medically severe, whilst the cold is just 'something everybody gets' may not help either. Such decisions regarding these ailments should be taken on an individual basis, and workers should not feel the need to lie or exaggerate when feeling ill. It is important for your body to recuperate rather than rating your illness on a scale of one to ten.
If you do feel that you are experiencing the onset of influenza, or have been told by your doctor that you have contracted the virus, you can find out more information about prescription treatment for flu here.