Feeling Ill? These 5 Things at Work May Be Making You Sick

Do you often feel sick at work but as soon as you leave the building you’re fine? Or, do you have a cough and sniffles that just won’t go away when you’re at your desk, but as soon as you go outside, your symptoms disappear? If this is the case, your desk and the items on top of it might be harboring dust and bacteria. Even worse — you may be working in a “sick” building.

Here are five items in your office that could be making you ill.

1. Carpeting

sick businessman on couch

The carpet is full of scary stuff. | iStock.com

All sorts of creepy crawlies are nesting inside the office carpet. Dust, mold, and bacteria have a way of getting deep down in the fibers. If you suffer from a chronic respiratory illness such as asthma, you may notice increased attacks when you’re at work. Some tell-tale signs of carpet mold growth include discoloration and odor.

2. The air

Businesswoman sick at work

All that coughing and sneezing is contaminating the air. | iStock.com

Poor air quality in your office could cause a host of health issues. It’s such serious issue that the EPA has put out a guide as to how to keep your office nice and clean. If you think it’s still not the big of a deal, the EPA notes, “Most Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors and many spend most of their working hours in an office environment. Studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others show that indoor environments sometimes can have levels of pollutants that are actually higher than levels found outside.” Yikes!

3. Computer and keyboard

Lit up keyboard keys

Your keyboard is full of dust. | Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

Chances are your computer and keyboard are full of dust. If you take a moment to run your finger over the back of your monitor, you’ll probably have enough dust-bunny fur to make a puppet. Breathing in this dust day after day is not good for you. Do yourself a favor and dust during your lunch break (and while you’re at it, shake out the crumbs from your keyboard). Your lungs will thank you.

4. Office desk and other surfaces

Man working at office desk

Any surface at work is sure to be full of germs. | iStock.com

Your hands come into contact with an unthinkable amount of germs throughout the day through surfaces in the office. You’re also frequently touching your face and mouth right after putting your hands on items that come into contact with other people’s dirty hands. It’s important, especially during the height of cold and flu season, to keep your hands clean and away from your face.

5. Your co-worker

business team working in an office

Your co-workers are hosts for germs. | iStock.com

While not a thing (perhaps that depends on whom you’re talking about), your co-worker can still make you sick. Every office has one: Those attempting to preserve vacation days, the ones who always work while sick in an attempt to demonstrate their undying loyalty, and the raging workaholics. If one of your co-workers is contagious, do your best to sit far away from him or her during meetings and don’t stand too close during conversations. And if the sick co-worker sneezes, run as far and as fast as you can.