The winter months offer the perfect opportunity for germs to spread throughout temperature-controlled homes, schools and office buildings, clinging onto tables, chairs, countertops, writing utensils, books and computer keyboards. Considering how easy it is for us to acquire and spread germs from place to place and from hand to hand, it is really a wonder that people do not get sick more often during the course of the winter season, especially from illnesses like the common cold, flu and acute and chronic bronchitis.

Acute vs. Chronic Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an infectious disorder of the lungs that is classified as either acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is typically symptomatic for only a couple of weeks and the infected individual will often display flu-like symptoms, including tightness in the chest, a sore throat, congestion, wheezing, difficulty breathing and/or a fever. Once ill, the infected individual will likely be confined to a bed or couch for the next several days and should not be expected to be productive.

Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, can last anywhere between several months and a few years, depending on the severity of the infection. Chronic bronchitis also tends to be the result of repeated cases of acute bronchitis and other respiratory distress. Although it takes longer to set on, the symptoms of chronic bronchitis are often much less debilitating or pronounced than a bout of acute bronchitis.

In The Workplace

“Despite the inherent danger of going to work sick, every year people still get themselves up out of bed, shower, dress, drive and stay at their office all day long, despite the repeated insistence that they go home and get well. Although they may have their best intentions at heart by insisting on staying, doing so puts them and their coworkers at an unnecessary risk of infection. Anything from the bathroom doorknob to the coffee pot in the break room can become a carrier of those unwanted flu germs,” said a spokesperson for Minnesota Occupational Health.

In order to ensure a clean, infection-free workplace for your coworkers, follow these nine tips:

Wash your hands. This drastically lowers your risk of spreading germs.

Clean your supplies. Be sure to sanitize office equipment like your keyboards, desk phones and countertops before you begin working and before you leave.

Use paper towels or toilet paper to open doors. Using a paper towel or a sheet of tissue or toilet paper can drastically lower the risk and rate of infection because it helps keep exposure limited.

Be aware of public restrooms. Restrooms that everyone has used spell out breeding grounds for infectious host-seeking germs. What is more alarming is that so many people still do not even bother to wash their hands before and after use. Do yourself a favor and use extra caution in public restrooms.

Get a flu shot. Politics aside, undergoing flu vaccinations does a lot to keep the number of infections down each season, especially in children and older adults. If you are a young to middle-aged adult, chances are you will get by fine without one, but if you are older, your chances of developing chronic bronchitis become that much higher.