Are you one of those people who always try to “tough it out” when feeling sick? Do you “forget” symptoms of illness, thinking that they’re not a big deal or that they’ll go away? While your resilience is admirable, ignoring or trying to “beat” sickness symptoms is a bad idea.

In this article, we will discuss five top signs you’re getting sick. We’ll also explain why ignoring illness is not a good idea. Finally, we’ll provide some pointers about what to do to help prevent getting sick!

Why you should call in sick

While you’re undoubtedly important, it’s not all about you when you’re sick. By ignoring signs of illness, you’re not doing yourself, your colleagues, or your community any favors by venturing out of your house.

The biggest issue it seems that people have when sick is missing work. Though you may feel guilty about calling in, there are plenty of good reasons to stay home. Most employers offer sick days to avoid unwell employees causing problems – such as these:

Making your colleagues sick:

While soldiering on and getting into work may seem like the right thing to do, it isn’t. Anyone who comes into close contact with you – say, one meter (3 feet) – risks getting what you have. When employees come to work with a virus or infection, the risk of infection in the workplace is much higher than average.

Prolonged absence:

Heading out of the house is not conducive to recovery from illness. There’s a good reason why bed rest is “prescribed” by doctors to patients who are sick – it’s absolutely crucial. Staying home when your body is battling an illness drastically increases the chances of full recovery while decreasing the chances of spreading your sickness to others.

Spread of illness:

While resistant bacterial strains are partially to blame for bad cold and flu seasons, people who expose the illness to others – willingly or unwillingly – are the main contributing factor to the outbreak. When you’re sick and head outside anyway, you risk passing what you’ve got to everyone with whom you come into contact.

Be a responsible employee and person. Even if you don’t like your job, you are essentially wasting your employer’s time and money by sticking around when sick.

A year-long study of 29,000 adults estimates the cost of presenteeism – workers who attend work while sick – at around $150 billion. Additional studies confirm that presenteeism is costlier than illness-related absenteeism (staying home when sick) or disability costs!

Here are five signs you’re getting sick that many people ignore:


  1. You’ve got the chills – and they’re spreading.

No, it’s not just your imagination; chills are not a typical body response.  Body chills are usually indicative of a surfacing illness. For example, influenza (the flu) features quick onset of chills along with fatigue. The common cold may also include chills paired with an irritated throat. (If you’re unsure as to whether you have one or the other, bear in mind that flu symptoms usually come on much faster.)

If you experience chills – especially if accompanied by other symptoms – make sure to drink plenty of water and get bed rest. Don’t further risk your health by heading outside or going to work!

  1. Your stomach won’t settle down – even after using the toilet.

Ugh. There’s not much worse than a stomach that refuses to calm down. The cause of common symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain is gastroenteritis – inflammation of the digestive tract. Another reason for tummy trouble is stomach flu which, in addition to the above symptoms, may include a low-grade fever and vomiting.

Stomach flu is highly contagious and potentially dangerous for some people. Do yourself and others a favor: drink plenty of fluids and stay home!

  1. You’re pouring sweat – and it’s not stopping.

If you’re profusely sweating, it’s safe to say that you aren’t in good shape to go anywhere. You’re probably experiencing additional symptoms besides sweating, like chills and fever. If so, you may be coming down with an infection.

If you continue to have bad sweats, speak with a doctor. Additionally, if your physician recently prescribed medications, speak with them about it; excessive sweating may indicate a medication intolerance or side effect. Although rare, excessive sweating may signify severe medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, or lung disease.

  1. You’re not hungry – for no good reason.

If you enjoy eating large meals, suddenly having your appetite snatched away is just, well, weird. It turns out that there may be medical reasons for this strange symptom, including gastroenteritis and bacterial infection. Loss of appetite may also indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder or depression. Another reason may be food intolerance, though other symptoms will likely accompany this.

  1. You’re feeling mentally drained – and losing interest.

Loss of mental energy affects almost every aspect of life – ask any person suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder. Brain fog is an umbrella pseudo-medical term used to describe the presence of mental lethargy, difficulty paying attention, and a slowed response to stimuli. Several medical conditions, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome can cause brain fog.

If the mental doldrums don’t go away after a few days, consider scheduling a doctor’s appointment to rule out more serious conditions. If other symptoms accompany the brain fog, make sure to let your doctor know.


Final Thoughts: How to Prevent Getting Sick

While no tip can entirely safeguard us from illness, there certainly are concrete steps you can take that will drastically reduce the risks. Here are ten quick tips for preventing illness:

  1. Eat dark green vegetables

Dark green, leafy veggies are packed with vitamins that support a healthy immune system. In a lab mice study, the rodents fed cruciferous vegetables produced 70-80 percent more cell surface-level proteins necessary for practical immune function than those without veggies.

  1. Get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation decreases the body’s levels of infection-fighting antibodies. The body sheds more immune cells throughout extended periods of sleep deprivation, increasing the risk of infection. Adequate sleep during times of illness also speeds recovery.

  1. Lay off alcohol

Research demonstrates that regular alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of bacterial and viral infections. Drinking alcohol damages dendritic cells, a vital infection-fighting component of the immune system.

  1. Get vitamin D
    immune system

Vitamin D deficiencies are shown to contribute to a weakened immune system. Good food sources of vitamin D include beef liver, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, and salmon. You may choose to take “D” supplements; ensure that the product contains D3 (cholecalciferol) as it can more effectively raise your blood levels of vitamin D than other types.

  1. Exercise

Regular exercise is good for just about everything regarding human health. Per a study published in Neurologic Clinicians, routine exercise boosts the production and circulation of white blood cells, reduces stress and stress-related hormones, lowers the risk of chronic disease, and helps to normalize the immune response.

  1. Practice meditation or yoga

The regulation of personal stress is an overlooked yet important part of lowering infection risk. Learning even the basics of meditation or yoga (or both!) also promotes mental health. The latter also includes physical elements.

  1. Get a flu shot

Everyone over the age of six months should get an annual flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If the measles outbreak in the U.S. teaches us anything, it’s this: get vaccinated!

  1. Drink some green tea

Freshly-brewed green tea may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The antioxidants in green tea may also help ward off infection. Just ensure that the tea product is freshly brewed. Also, you may need to drink upwards of 3-5 cups of tea daily to realize its full benefits for health.

  1. Stay away from sick people

Unless you’re tending to a sick kid or working in a hospital, you shouldn’t be anywhere near someone you know to be sick. Most bacterial and viral infections are highly contagious, particularly when you’re near the other person. Members of your household who are sick should remain in their bedroom whenever possible.

  1. Drink water

The human body is made up of between 60-65 percent water, making H2O by far the most abundant resource in the human body. Unsurprisingly, water is directly or indirectly responsible for just about every bodily function. Concerning illness, adequate water intake carries oxygen to the immune system and flushes toxins from the system. All things being equal, drinking plenty of water even when you’re healthy is probably the best thing you can do to prevent getting sick. If you do get sick, drinking water may help to speed recovery!

Editorial note 08/22/2023: Updated study links