6 Ways to Handle Sick Days When You Have a Chronic Condition

By Corinne O'Keefe Osborn
April 06, 2021

It’s not easy to live with a chronic health condition, and it can be even trickier to work with one. Different types of workplaces and industries have varying levels of tolerance for taking time off. For some people, taking the day off isn’t even an option. They continue to work despite symptoms, pain, and exhaustion, fearful of the consequences of calling in sick too often. Others may have an easier time taking paid sick days, until they run out. Whichever boat you’re in, navigating what to do when getting to the office is too difficult can be tough. Here are some ideas on how to work and not work when you have a chronic condition.

Get Ahead of the Situation

Calling in sick and taking time off is generally less stressful when your supervisor is aware of your condition. Of course, you’re not obligated to share medical information with your boss; but, doing so may help lead to greater understanding.

One of the most effective ways to communicate about the severity of a chronic disease is to have a few science-based facts about your condition readily available to share, says Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in California. “An HR department or boss will generally respond very well to seeing scientific data when it comes to chronic disease,” she says.