Flu or Cold? Know the Differences and Keep Your Employees Healthy

Flu or Cold?

How much do you really know about the influenza virus? Do you know what you need to do to prevent it? It is the flu or cold?

Unfortunately, most employers don’t think about the flu until it has decimated their workforce. Only then do they realize they need to do something to stop it from spreading further.

Flu Symptoms

Do you know the common flu symptoms? Do you know how the flu is different from a cold?

Flu symptoms make you feel miserable. Common flu symptoms to be on the lookout for are:

  • Body aches and headaches
  • Extreme fatigue and exhaustion
  • Fever in excess of 100 degrees or simply feeling feverish
  • Sore throat, often accompanied by a cough
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea

If you have an employee suffering from one or more of these symptoms, they may need to checked out by a medical professional for an accurate diagnoses and treatment plan. All of these symptoms can also be signs of a cold. But there are several additional symptoms that indicate a more serious problem.

Knowing When to Go to the Doctor

If an employee experiences the following symptoms, they need to get into the doctor for treatment right away:

  • Confusion
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lip discoloration
  • Pressure or pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting that won’t subside
  • Sudden bouts of dizziness
  • Flu symptoms that seem to improve but suddenly grow worse
  • Seizures

Ignoring the signs and symptoms of a severe illness could make the situation worse and cause the recovery process to take far longer than needed.

Types of Flu

Even though you might not realize it, there are numerous types of flu that you can get. Check out some of the following to give you an understanding of what you might be dealing with.

Avian flu occurs when you are infected with the Type A virus from a bird. While it naturally occurs in wild aquatic birds, it can infect domestic poultry and other animals. It isn’t all that common in humans, but it can happen.

Swine flu is a type of respiratory disease found in pigs from the Type A virus, however, it can end up affecting humans and making them ill.

Most people are familiar with a seasonal flu. This tends to strike during the cool fall and winter months and subside during the spring and summer. It often ends up spreading at a rapid rate from coming in contact with someone who is infected with the virus.

Flu Symptoms or Just a Cold?

Is it a cold or flu? How can you tell the difference?

Since the common cold and the flu tend to have a lot of the same symptoms, it can be quite difficult to differentiate between the two. The most accurate way to get an accurate diagnosis is to go to your healthcare provider for a test within the first couple days of becoming ill.

The topic of viral illnesses will always remain somewhat confusing, since the body has a relatively small number of symptoms with which to respond to an ever-changing, wide variety of viruses. – Dr. Alan Greene

Generally speaking, the flu is far worse than just being hit with a regular cold. When you are struggling with the flu, body aches, fatigue, fever and cough tend to be amplified. If you have nothing more than a cold, you will probably be dealing with something simple like a stuffy nose.

Taking the Necessary Steps to Prevent a Flu Pandemic

One of the best things you can do to prevent a flu pandemic from taking over your business is to make sure everyone is washing their hands, staying home when sick and keeping the office clean. Click here to get tips on handwashing.

Bring in a professional commercial cleaning company on a regular basis during peak flu season to prevent the virus from taking over your workforce. By doing your part to prevent the area from becoming contaminated, you can ensure the health and well-being of your employees. There is no time like the present to start preventing the illness from spreading through your workplace.

Preventing Flu Outbreaks in Office Environments

Preventing flu outbreaks is a primary concern for most office managers and people who have to work in office environments. The recent outbreak of measles originating in Disneyland highlights how having lots of people together in an environment where someone is sick can have far-reaching effects when it come to the spread of illness.

Certainly the single most critical illness prevention tip is to wash your hands properly. We’ve recommended this repeatedly, and we won’t stop!

Hand Washing and Preventing Flu

How often should you wash your hands?

  • Before you prepare food and after you prepare food
  • After you eat
  • Before and after going to the washroom
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Whenever your hands are dirty
  • More frequently if you are around anyone who is sick

What is proper handwashing technique?

Hands should be wet before you apply soap. Wet hands will allow the soap to lather up better and gives you better coverage over your hands when washing.  Wash for 10-20 seconds.

Using an alcohol-based sanitizer in the absence of soap and water is acceptable however it is not as effective as using soap and water.

7 Additional Ways to Prevent the Spread of Illness in the Office

1) Ensure that any re-usable towels are laundered or replaced daily.  In an office environment, paper towels are better at limiting the spread of infection.

2) Have disinfectant wipes on hand for employees to use at their workstations. If an employee has a sneeze or cough, they can attempt to wipe the affected area with the quick wipe. This wipe down will make their work environment cleaner and help prevent the spread of illness if someone else comes by or shares the workstation.

3) The next most critical way to preventing flu in your office is to be sure people do not come to work when they are sick.  This seems like common sense, but it cannot be overstated.  Coughing or sneezing those germs causes them to become airborne and leads to the beginnings of an outbreak that spreads the flu.

5) Educate your employees how to contain a sneeze or cough. The easiest method being, of course, a tissue.  However, it is not always possible to grab one quick enough so be sure everyone knows how to catch a cough or sneeze in their sleeve.  This certainly is not ideal but still a better alternative that sending the germs airborne for all to catch.

6) Source and use as many touchless dispensers as possible in the washroom and lunchroom.  Using touchless soap dispensers and towel dispensers can go a long way to stopping the spread of infection, by having one less touch point where germs can hang out and be spread among the users of your office.

7) Also be sure to encourage employees to take a flu shot.  If you have enough employees even arranging a flu shot clinic on site is a great option to help keep your office healthier during the flu season.  Even finding a flu shot location or mobile site close by is a good choice.

Many people make excuses to not get the flu shot. Often the reasons are personal rather than medical. Certainly the flu vaccination is an excellent prevention technique for preventing flu in your office this flu season.


Truly hand washing could be so critical that if you just focused on that fact the spread of illness in your office environment would decrease significantly.  On average people touch themselves on their faces 18 times per hour.  This frequent touching is the largest factor why hand washing is so important.

3 Everyday Preventive Actions To Stop the Spread of Germs

Stop the Spread of Germs

It is important to understand some terminology when it comes to cleaning. Understanding this language will lead you to be able to take a wider approach to maintaining your environment to be germ free and to help stop the spread of germs.

What is cleaning versus sanitizing and disinfecting?

The differences are significant as each level plays a role in the overall cleaning process.


Cleaning is just that, cleaning. It is the act of removing dirt, germs, and residue. It does not necessarily kill germs or bacteria. Cleaning large amounts of soil, dirt, etc. is critical before sanitizing or disinfecting can occur.  If sanitizing or disinfecting is the goal, large quantities of dirt or soil will impede the ability of chemicals to do their work effectively.


Sanitizing is the act of lowering the number of germs on surfaces.  Sanitizing reduces the germ count to a level considered safe by public health standards to decrease the risk of spreading infections. (The removal of 99.99% microorganisms).

For a surface to be sanitized it must be cleaned sufficiently, otherwise it is impossible to obtain close contact between the sanitizer and the surface to be sanitized.  Also some chemical sanitizers (e.g. chlorine and iodine) react with organic matter and so will be less effective when the surface is not properly cleaned.  Sanitizers are designed to clean and sanitize at the same time. However, excessive soil and dirt should always be cleaned and removed first.


Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces using chemicals.  The act of disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. The act of disinfecting usually involves a certain amount of dwell time for the chemical solution depending on the manufacturers recommendations.  Even disinfecting doesn’t necessarily kill all organisms.

So having an overall cleaning strategy that has an understanding of the true elements of cleaning are important if you are hoping to prevent the spread of germs.

Does Everyday Cleaning Plan Include All Categories of Cleaning?

Does your cleaning plan include all categories of cleaning or are you just cleaning without any awareness of the need to properly sanitize or disinfect? Most professionals will recommend that at the least you should be sanitizing surfaces that are frequently touched in your home or office.

The question becomes, do your people understand what this means?  Go into your cleaning closet or janitorial room. Do you see cleaning cloths hanging to dry? If so, you know that your cleaners are very likely just cleaning with a damp cloth. This means they are removing visible soils but not likely taking the next steps in combating the spread of germs by properly sanitizing or disinfecting.

Stop the Spread of Germs

You can help stop the spread of germs by having cleaning supplies on hand for your workstation or keys areas of your home.  The quickest and easiest are pre-moistened disinfecting or sanitizing wipes, which you can use to clean the surfaces you touch the most before you start for the day work.

Ensuring a work environment that is clean and sanitary doesn’t have to be difficult. Preventing the spread of germs is really everyone’s responsibility and that starts with good hand hygiene.  Be aware of how germs spread and have a good cleaning plan.  This helps set the stage for a well-rounded plan to keep germs at bay.  Also look for clues (or ask them) to see if your cleaning professional understands the correct techniques to help you stop the spread of germs in your work environment.

Don’t Touch That: How Poor Cleaning Practices Spread Viruses


How much has sickness affected your workplace productivity this year? Preventing the spread of viruses in the workplace is becoming more and more important especially during the flu season.

The peak flu season occurs during the coldest part of the year. Depending on which part of the world you are in, the time of year will vary. In North America, it is October to May, peaking normally in February.

Occurrences of flu increase 10 times or more during these colder periods. Why is the flu so much more prevalent in the winter?

Continue reading “Don’t Touch That: How Poor Cleaning Practices Spread Viruses”

5 Ways To Prevent the Spread of Ebola


The Ebola virus and its devastating affects are one of the top health issues in the media these days.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the severe, life-threatening disease caused by infection with the Ebola virus. EHF is a serious disease with a high mortality rate.

Ebola viruses are transmitted either:

  • Through direct contact with blood or body fluids/substances (urine, feces, vomit etc.) of an infected person with symptoms.
  • Through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected blood or body fluids.

The role of the environment in transmission has not been established. Limited laboratory studies, under favorable conditions, indicate that the Ebola virus can remain viable on solid surfaces, with concentrations falling slowly over several days. However, given the apparent low infectious dose and disease severity, higher levels of precaution are warranted to reduce the potential risk posed by contaminated surfaces in the patient care environment and beyond.

Continue reading “5 Ways To Prevent the Spread of Ebola”

Cleaning Remedies that Kill Bacteria & Flu Viruses


Every year you are inundated with advertisements about how to disinfect and sanitize and use anti-bacterial soap to battle the flu. You are told to be concerned with surfaces like door handles, doorknobs, phone handsets, keyboards and other key touch points found throughout your everyday life.

Keeping colds and flu viruses at bay is hard enough at home. If you manage a work facility, you may be faced with the extra responsibility of determining the best way to protect your employees from getting sick.

If you go to the CDC website, they list every product certified to kill viruses and germs, but which one is safest AND most effective?

Continue reading “Cleaning Remedies that Kill Bacteria & Flu Viruses”

How to Stop the Spread of Germs in the Workplace


Did you know that getting the flu vaccination each year is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and sickness in the workplace? That’s according to the Center for Disease Control.

Illness costs businesses an average of $576 billion dollars each year, says The Integrated Benefits Institute. That’s a significant chunk of change for your company and the economy. The best way to recoup that money and uphold high productivity is to stop the spread of germs in the workplace.

Here are a few tips to help you keep illness out and healthy employees at their desks.

Continue reading “How to Stop the Spread of Germs in the Workplace”

How to Prevent Flu Outbreaks in Medical and Dental Offices


Preventing the flu is serious business. Every year we are inundated with news of the latest version of Flu panic that will lead to the next pandemic. At least that’s what the media wants you to believe.

Preventing the spread of the flu virus in dentists and or medical doctors offices may seem to be harder than other environments. However, doctors are highly trained in the treatment and care of patients and are likely the best prepared of anyone.

Continue reading “How to Prevent Flu Outbreaks in Medical and Dental Offices”

How to Cut Your Flu Risk in Half

how to prevent colds and flu

how to prevent colds and flus in the workplace

There are some important basic guidelines to follow to ensure you protect yourself during the flu season. Officials at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are warning about the perils of the flu this year once again.

Already 21 children have died due to flu, which is more than last year at the same time. As the season progresses, more deaths will be attributed to the flu as is normally the case in years past.

Deaths due to the flu for adults are not required to be reported to the CDC, only children. Although it is clearly an indicator of the severity of the outbreak.

Continue reading “How to Cut Your Flu Risk in Half”

How to Prepare for and Prevent a Pandemic

pandemic preparedness plan guide

As an employer, the last thing you want to hear when your staff calls you in the morning is that they are sick.

A sick employee is costly. In addition to costing you productivity and revenue, a sick employee can put your entire team at risk. When one employee shares his or her illness with several others in your company, you could have a pandemic on your hands.

Want to avoid the high costs of employees missing work and keep your staff healthy? Here are a few tips for preventing a pandemic in your office.

Continue reading “How to Prepare for and Prevent a Pandemic”


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