Do I get sick more than most people? Why?
April 24, 2014 8:15 AM Subscribe
Last year I called in sick nine days. So far this year, I'm up to five counting today, which is roughly on track if you consider that I get sick less during the summer. Where does that put me among people who work office jobs with no particular hazards? I feel like this is more than most people, and more than I myself used to miss class back in college, and I'm wondering why. More details and some hypotheses inside.
posted by d. z. wang to Health & Fitness (63 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Usually, my sicknesses every year consist of most short bouts of the flu-like symptoms, which go away after a day or two of just sleeping 12-16 hours a day and drinking lots of water. Maybe once a year it'll escalate to a week of sinusitis, at which point my GP will put me on a short course of antibiotics. I get the flu shot every year, although it's not clear that this helps.
I'm mostly concerned because I don't remember being sick so often in college, and an informal survey of friends and family showed that most of them self-report calling in sick much less, somewhere from zero to five days a year.
A few hypotheses:
- This is all bad statistics: I didn't track my illnesses in college because I didn't have to call in sick, and missing class is a different standard than missing a day of work (most days when I call in sick to work, I could probably stay awake and mostly focused for an hour at a time).
- Germs pass really easily in a big open-plan office where people keep food around and eat at their desks. Earlier this year, you could draw a circle on the floor plan where everybody inside called in sick within two weeks of each other, which I'm pretty sure meant somebody infected the rest.
- I have some chronic illness which only looks like repeated bouts of the flu. I'm pretty sure this isn't the case, because my GP seems unconcerned and I've participated in the sick circles.
- Everybody I'm asking is under-reporting their illnesses because I keep asking them in casual conversation and they take a guess without actually checking their records.
- I'm not getting enough sleep and when I'm sick I'm really just short on sleep. I tried to falsify this by being really strict about keeping a regular sleep schedule six nights a week this last winter (and sleeping in on Sunday so I still got eight hours). Still got sick. Although being well-rested turned out to be nice in lots of other ways, including encouraging me to work out regularly so I could fall asleep easily.
I guess in practice, this isn't an immediate problem because nobody at work has said anything to me, but I do wonder whether there's something I could do to be more reliably well.