THE HIDDEN COSTS OF HAVING A COLD

The cost of having a cold…

With winter fast approaching it’s time to batten down the hatches and get ourselves settled indoors where it is nice and cosy along with everyone else in the household. As you’d expect colds are more common in the winter months mainly because people are in closer contact with each other at this time of year simply from staying indoors.1 The viruses that cause them are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact1, unfortunately this can be hard to avoid when bunking down with little ones! It is estimated that the average person contracts more than 50 colds during a lifetime.2 Anyone can get a cold, although pre-school and school-aged kids catch them more frequently than teenagers and adults.2 Again, one of the main reasons that colds are so common among kids is because they are often in close contact with each other in day-care centres and schools.2 Of course, it doesn’t help that their little immune systems are immature and don’t stand up well against new infections. Of course our little ones don’t leave their germs and bugs at the school gate and other family members may be next in line to get ill!

As any mum would know, the common cold will result in symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache and a loss of appetite.1 These symptoms are not usually enough to put us in bed so most of us just soldier on and get on with our work at home or at the office, getting through the day as best we can. However when little ones get sick, parents often end up having to take time off from work to care for them.

Did you know?

  • Presenteeism is defined as the productivity that is lost when we come to work but, due to illness or other medical conditions, we are not fully productive.3 Employees who work when ill are more prone to injury and, if contagious, increase the risk of passing on an illness to other employees.3
  • In 2009/10, the total cost of presenteeism to the Australian economy was estimated to be $34.1 billion.3
  • In addition to this, the cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year.4

A loss of income due to days off work combined with doctor’s visits, medication and time spent looking after ill loved ones sees the costs of colds and flu really adding up!

As many parents would know, while the symptoms of a common cold can be relieved there is no cure. The best we can do to help our family save money (and tears) is to try to stop the spread of germs and keep our immune systems fighting fit.

Prevention is better than cure

  • Kids and adults need to understand the importance of hand washing. Use alcohol-based hand gel when soap and water are not available.2
  • Sneeze and cough into tissues and then bin them straight away.2
  • Keep the kitchen and bathroom counter tops as well as kids toys clean when someone in the family has a common cold.
  • When you are ill with a cold be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Water, hot tea and soups (especially chicken soup) are best.2 Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Plenty of sleep and rest helps the body to recover from a cold.2
  • Nutrients and herbs may be beneficial to help support our immune function and general well-being and can also help to reduce the severity of a cold. Vitamin A and C, zinc and herbs such as echinacea, horseradish and garlic are beneficial.
  • Keep you and your family healthy by maintaining an active lifestyle during the colder months and eating a balance diet.