Has Your Career Choice Put You At Greater Risk Of Infection?

When we make a career choices, we take into account several factors, including required skills, job responsibilities, career outlook, and earning potential, but we rarely consider how a job can affect our health. Most organizations offer perks and health benefits, but in some cases, the career you chose could have a negative impact on your overall health, putting you at higher risk of infectious diseases from the common cold to drug resistant tuberculosis.

Careers Linked With Higher Infection Risk

PR Executives, Senior Corporate Executives, & Media Personnel

“High stress jobs are linked to an increased risk of respiratory illnesses and acute infections”

While all jobs come with a certain amount of stress, these jobs have been ranked among the most stressful jobs. The high stress levels have been linked with the notoriously erratic work timings, long work hours, and tight deadlines that these jobs entail.

This prolonged exposure to stress and irregular hours has a damaging impact on immunity, Not surprisingly, several studies have linked higher stress levels to an increased risk of respiratory illnesses and acute infections like the common cold, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and laryngitis, among others.

Call Center Employees

“Research on call center employees in India shows that they tend to have a weakened immunity that makes them vulnerable to a wide range of infectious diseases”

Most call center employees are night owls and can effortlessly party till the sun comes up! There’s a downside to this nightlife however, as these work timings disrupt the circadian rhythm (the body’s natural internal clock), making you more susceptible to virtually every infection that is doing the rounds.

In fact, studies conducted on call center employees in Bangalore and Delhi show that BPO employees have a predisposition to infections, especially disorders that affect the respiratory and digestive tract. In addition, there is a higher incidence of kidney disease because of restrictive timings and the lack of adequate toilet breaks, greatly increasing the risk of urinary tract infections.

Pilots, Flight Attendants, & Pursers

“The low humidity in airplane cabins has been linked to an increased risk of respiratory illnesses”

Flying seems like a cool job but it’s not all glitz and glamour. The close confines of the airplane cabin drastically increases the risk of airborne infections. In addition to this, the air in a plane is very dry – just 10 – 20 % humidity, which causes your nasal passageways to dry up, making you susceptible to respiratory infections. Businessmen who fly frequently will also face similar health problems.

Medical Residents & Hospital Interns

“Hospitals teem with various strains of antibiotic resistant infections and the greater the exposure the higher the risk of contagion”

Hospitals are hotbeds of infection because of the sheer number of sick people that pass through their doors on a daily basis. What’s worse is that many of the germs in hospitals are resistant to antibiotics and so people working in hospitals are likely to come down with antibiotic resistant infections. In fact, several resident doctors in Mumbai’s hospitals were stuck with drug resistant TB over the past few years.

Medical residents and hospital interns are vulnerable to a range of viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens like drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Enterococcus (VRE), and Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

Teachers & Nannies

“Teachers have a higher prevalence of respiratory-related illnesses than almost any other profession”

Teaching is often referred to as a thankless profession, and it truly is! Children have developing immune systems and fall ill pretty easily, turning classrooms into germ incubators! Children are resilient and quickly bounce back after an infection, but their unfortunate teachers can be out of action for weeks.

A study by researchers at the University of South Florida School of Medicine found that teachers have a higher prevalence of respiratory-related illnesses like influenza and the common cold than professionals in any other field because of their constant contact with groups of children who are carriers of infections, as they still have underdeveloped immunity.

The Takeaway

Your career might increase your risk of infection, but that does not mean that there is nothing that you can do about it. Focus on the aspects of your life that you can control – eat healthy, reduce your stress levels, exercise on a daily basis if possible, and get enough sleep.


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