Absenteeism can severely impact your professional life

Does your cough affect your work, studies, or the everyday things you do? Does it cause you to be absent most of the time? Absenteeism is being absent from normal activity because of a cough that will not let you be productive.

A typical cough usually lasts for a few days or a couple of weeks; however, it develops into a chronic cough if it lasts for an extended eight weeks or more. 

If a cough forced you to be absent from your daily routine, it has substantially impacted your quality of life. How it affects you will vary from one individual to the other.

Reasons for Coughing in Such Cases of Absenteeism

Through coughing, our bodies are trying to get rid of something inside. The reasons for coughing can be due to:


An overreaction of the immune system to certain substances entering the body can cause an allergy cough. Because of this reaction, the body releases the chemical histamine, which is typically released when one is suffering from a cold which then causes allergy symptoms. Allergies often cause coughing spells, skin irritation, runny nose, watery eyes, or rapid sneezes. Different factors and irritants influence allergic coughs, such as the allergens from pollen, mold, dust, dust mites, or smoke. Other irritants include disinfectants used for cleaning.

Respiratory illnesses

Most chronic coughs are a symptom of an underlying condition. Such persistent coughs could be a sign of diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, postnasal drip, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Cough-variant asthma, reactive airway disease, restrictive lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia or croup, and whooping cough in children, and many others.


A cough that occurs after taking medicine could end up as a case of suspected drug-induced cough. A range of medications can induce cough, such as the most ordinary class of drugs called angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors such as lisinopril or enalapril used in the treatment of hypertension.

Environmental factors

Coughing can also be triggered by the ‘unapparent,’ which is, in this case, the air you breathe. Everyday air pollution happens around us, dramatically impacts our health. This pollution ranges from ambient particulate matter, occupational dust and gas, biomass fuel, smoke from cigarettes, very dry or heated air.

Ambient air pollution poses health risks such as coughing, chest pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infections, throat irritation, eye irritation, respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases.

Perhaps you are coughing, yet you are not even sick. There are many possible reasons to cough without involving a disease. If you want to know more, you can find out here and here.

What Affected patients can do 

Always seek medical attention when your cough persists. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment and medication will be recommended, which includes:

  • decongestants or antihistamines
  • Allergy medication
  • Antibiotics for bacterial, fungal, or mycobacterial infections.
  • corticosteroids and bronchodilators that reduce inflammation and open airways 
  • Acid blockers to treat acid reflux
  • New lifestyle changes
  • There are many negative ways a cough can impact your health, to know the exact cause of your cough is the best way to prevent any harm to your quality of life.

Consequences of absenteeism due to cough

Coughing affects each person differently, it may lead to sleep loss, headaches, lack of concentration, or worse damage to your respiratory organs. Studies show that loss of sleep causes one to have a reduced ability to process complex information.

While absenteeism brings on the individual burden, respiratory infections among workers may have consequences for employers and society as a whole, such as;

  • The rise in sickness absenteeism 
  • Reduced work performance and productivity
  • Increased healthcare use

A prominent example of the consequence of absenteeism due to cough is the current Covid 19 pandemic. Most governments have seen considerable drops in GDP, increased rates of unemployment due to the pressure brought upon by this virus. Hospitals continue to be under pressure, and some could not take in more patients.

Likewise, presenteeism, where employees are present at work but do not operate at a maximum capacity due to their ill-health problems brings along the same consequences.

What policymakers can do to manage absenteeism

Policymakers must consider the added costs of a sick employee/student who spreads an illness that gets the whole facility or many customers sick. For instance, in the current Covid-19 pandemic, the causing virus can quickly spread amongst employees.

Investing more in employees’ well-being and on-the-site safety programs and developing employee-friendly work environments to prevent stress and mental health problems can go a long way in improving the situation.


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