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My Co-Worker Coughs All Day Long!

Nairobi, July 25th 2011- I’ve been looking for advice for handling or even whether to handle the issue of a co-worker with a chronic cough.

Over the years I’ve worked with several people with bad coughs. I’ve always accepted it as just part of the working world. I’ve never spoken to HR about it because I don’t know if that would make any sense and/or would backfire in some way. Anyway, I now sit near a lady who coughs constantly.

The cough is a deep, loud bark and it never stops.She only pauses for a minute or so before resuming. Changes in weather or season only means it goes from bad to worse and then back to bad. I have never spoken to her about it.

I can’t speculate as to why she is coughing or whether she is doing whatever she can to control it.The problem is obvious. To complain about a cough, whether to the cougher or to HR, seems cruel and unfair. On the other hand, the noise is affecting me and the other people who sit in my area, which is to say: it’s driving us nuts. I wear headphones and listen to white noise as loud as possible but that does not block out the cough. I can’t wear the headphones all the time anyway.

I should also mention that we cannot move our desks for various technical reasons.I tried searching the web for advice on this particular issue and came up with very little. It may be one of those untouchable issues. Can I get your take on it? Have you had such a similar experience? 28 Comments below.

Anonymous said…what the hell? where do you work?

Anonymous said… I was going to complain about my neighbor who chews loudly!

Shiku said…Thats sounds like my ex-boyfriend.

Anonymous said…Persistent cough that doesn’t seem to go away?? Has she had herself checked for TB?

Anonymous said……A chronic cough that changes with seasons means – Asthma cough. She might not be knowing it, but maybe u cld talk to her because there are alot of meds that could help. if its an Asthma cough, its not contagious, but i know how bad it is.The problem is she might b fearing n thinking its something worse, which even if it was, she should seek meds for her own sake(its draining her energy n life) and for the other workers sake. talk to her as a friend, research about Asthma cough n other types of coughs, send her emails. u could start a conversation about how a friend had such a cough and was told its asthma cough n was treated n got healed….. u get the drift.

Anonymous said…As i read this i cant help but to thank you. I work in an international organization and we go through the same thing. Things get worse when now you have to work with that individual on a project. Because they will cough then touch you or even cough on your face or hands as you discuss or point at something in the group discussion. Please help us! I do need help too!

Anonymous said…It is probably TB. So be a good friend and advise your colleague to seek medical attention before it is too late.

jeff said…You need to run off away as afar as you can you could catch an alien strain of TB boss RUuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jeff said… Ok hahaha people fine Ok whoever you are and from your email she seems to avoid medication intentionally please get away from her ASAP !!! don contract an alien strain of TB and Blame yourself later dude / Gal !!!!

Anonymous said…Ask your coworker to keep warm and try honey and lemon to sooth the throat, that way the cough is minimized if not eliminated.As for Shiku, she need not bad-mouth her ex-boyfriend in such a forum.

Anonymous said… She needs your help. help her to seek medical advice. Sick people need our sympathy and and support of any sort. Try as much as possible to understand her. Constant coughing can be a hell.I am sure she will appreciate your genuine concern. Edward

Anonymous said…Ask your coworker to keep warm and make use of honey and lemon to sooth the through and the cough will will minimize or reduce if not eliminate it.As for Shiku, bad-mouthing your ex-boyfriend is just so shady and uncouth and to say the least, hare-brained.

Benson Omosh said… There is need for advance medical check up.The fellow coworkers have right to advice their partner on inspiring steps which could save the life. We Kenyans we like to criticize others & running a way from responsibility.WHAT COULD YOU DO WHEN THE COWORKER WAS YOUR CHILD/HUSBAND/WIFE?don’t tell me you have no Idea…!!BENSON OMONDI

Vmt said…Talk to the HR and suggest inviting a medical consultant to talk about chronic diseases in general. That might even end up helping yourself and everyone else. All the best

Anonymous said…It might be worth mentioning to the HR as the employment Act provides:-

34. (1) Subject to subsection (2), an employer shall ensure the provision sufficient and of proper medicine for his employees during illness and if possible, medical attendance during serious illness.(2) An employer shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that he is notified of the illness of an employee as soon as reasonably practicable after the first occurrence of the illness.

Anonymous said…That is likely an irritation of the upper respiratory track system, or developing into asthma and can happen to anybody including you. it is not contagious, at all if that is the case, but she needs to be checked, i can imagine the pain she is going through, and probably your company doesn’t even cover for medication, or otherwise she should have seen the doctor! It is unlikely TB, but she needs to check all the same coz she is becoming susceptible to other infections.

I pray for a genuine friend who will help her out with advice, (its hard for people to shun genuine advice) and God to provide her healing.

It is easy for people to sound proud until it happens to them. And things happen!

Vincent said… NO. NO . NO . There is nothing life threatening.Ignore the cough and focus on your work.Every time he coughs say ‘(censored) from inside yourself and continue with work.

Kiddy said…It is due to irritation of the respiratory system (brionchioles)and that’s why it worsens with change in weather due to dust and cold irritants. This could lead to severe Asthma.

She should either pray for God’s healing and restoration or if her faith cannot handle that, she should see a doctor to prescribe her a vasodilator (e.g ventil tablets). Please advice her so.

Kiddy said… Its due to respiratory tract irritation( the brionchioles)and that’s why it worsens during changes in weather (dust and cold-air irritants.) If left unattended it will lead to Asthma.

Advice her to pray that God heals and restores her health. If her faith cannot handle that, she ought to see a doctor for a vasodilator presciption( e.g Ventil tablets)

Kiddy said…Tell her to pray that God heals and restores her health. If her faith cannot handle that, let her see a doctor for a vasodilator prescription( e.g ventil tablets.)

It is a respiratory tract irritation and that’s why it worsens during weather change( due to dust and cold irritants). It will lead to asthma if left unattended!!!

I understand her condition perfectly well!!!

Anonymous said…The most important thing is for her to urgently seek medical attention in order to rule out serious illnesses like TB. Co-workers should not talk ill of her instead they should try to advice for the good of her health. This cold season is causing a lot of allergic reactions too, so people should not make nasty conclusions, be professional.

Anonymous said…If you feel disturbed, you can imagine what the patient feels. Just be a friend and help her/him out. You never know what tomorrow has for you too. Put her/his feelings into consideration while helping out and be gentle incase she/he is in denial. Be patient with her/him.

linnet said… Anonymous! Are you Shiku’s ex-boyfriend? Yes, you are.

Anonymous said…check on da body sprays n perfumes u guys use. That could be the cause. Enforce team spirit al round.

Anonymous said…when you solve the problem, share the result with the world coz many people are suffering out there.

Anonymous said…As many have said,kindly advise her to seek medical attention,As for shiku and Linet-we are not interested on knowing how your ex boyfriend thinks-muko down sana,

Anonymous said… You could talk to your neighbor and find out if your neighbor has tried to get help from the hospital. Try and be very polite, some of these conditions are not easy to cure, I have a certain condition myself,and the doctors can’t seem to point a finger to the underlying problem. I have taken medication, but it doesn’t go away. I know my coworkers are affected, but I have no control over it. It could be the same for your neighbor.

zamzam said…Thank you so much for posting this, i have the same problem and i have a 100% cover, i have gone to every hospital but am not healed yet, Nairobi hospital tells me is asthma Aga Khan tells me its an allergy, i have been checked for TB But its not it,am now using herbals and it has reduced at least, its so embarrassing, and its not her fault, so please help.

This version has been adapted from Career Point Kenya

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