They say that doctors make the worst patients. It is a funny thing that the ones who know the most about treating sickness seem to know the least about how to be sick. Doctors are truly awful at it. And they are not alone. Doctors are used to treating human frailty as if they were somehow above it. But they are not, nor are any of us, no matter how hale and hearty we may seem.

Human bodies are soft and fragile. They are easy to puncture. Damage happens accidentally without the person having done anything particularly dangerous. Bones break if you look at them funny. And we frequently end up with pains from causes we cannot remember.

Worse still, we have the propensity to get sick without doing anything wrong. Just breathing the air coughed out by someone nearby is enough to lay us out for a week. Once sick, we can easily be overtaken by fear and confusion. To make sickness a smaller part of our lives, we need to learn how to do it better. Here are some dos and don’ts for the next time you are under the weather:

Use the Internet the Right Way

Doctors sometimes have a love/hate relationship with patients who use the internet to diagnose their illnesses. They love the fact that patients take an interest in their health and do what they can to educate themselves. But they hate the patients that think they can diagnose themselves with five minutes of browsing the web.

Before diagnosing yourself with gout simply because your grandfather used to complain about it, you should ask yourself what does gout look like? The internet is filled with excellent resources that not only describe symptoms and diseases, but show you exactly what to look for. What the internet is not very good at is telling you when you have no need to worry.

Don’t Expect Instant Cures

A cold is one of the most frustrating diseases that plague humanity. It is not because it is the most deadly. People don’t generally die from a common cold. But it is difficult to distinguish it from something more serious. There is also no cure for the common cold. There are treatments that can help ease the symptoms. Still, you never know how long you will be stuck with it. And while you are sick, it feels like you will never recover.

Other ailments have better-defined treatment cycles. We know how long it takes for a broken bone to heal. We know how many days or weeks it will be before we are back to work after surgery. These things take time. And we run into problems when we try to rush the well-established process.

So it is important to leave the bandages on. Take the antibiotics even after the symptoms have passed. Don’t walk on that leg or lift with that hand until the doctor says it is okay to do so. There are no instant cures. Healing takes time, usually longer than what is convenient. You will be a better patient when you can deal with that.

Don’t Be Patient Zero

It happens in airplanes, conferences, and at the office. One person shows up sick. And everyone else topples like a line of dominoes. That one person who didn’t consider or care how their sickness would affect other people became patient zero because they couldn’t be bothered to stay home for just one day until they were no longer contagious.

You have the opportunity to contain the highly localized outbreak among your peer group. You can even limit the spread of your sickness to your immediate family by following a few simple tips. That cold is going to cost you a trip to the doctor, a copay for some antibiotics, and a day’s pay. No one said it was going to be fun, easy, or cheap. But being sick carries certain responsibilities. Chief of which is helping to prevent the spread of whatever it is you have.

Being sick is an aspect of human frailty we all have to manage. Dealing with it means using the internet the right way, following through with treatments that take time, and preventing the spread of our sickness to others.