During cold and flu season, it can be difficult to determine whether or not you're well enough to go into work. In some instances, when you are just suffering from the common cold, it's OK to still go into the office.
However, if your symptoms are more severe and indicative of the flu, it's responsible of you to stay at home.
If you're unsure whether you should go into the office or stay home, the tips below will help.
How would you feel?
Studies show that 42% of those surveyed said their biggest pet peeve is when a co-worker comes into the office sick. If you feel under the weather, think how you would feel if you were in the shoes of your coworkers.
Even if you believe you can handle working, it is probably best to stay home. Taking a few days to rest may actually help speed up your recovery time.
What are your symptoms?
Your symptoms play a big role on whether or not you should go into the office. For example, if you simply woke up with a runny nose, chances are you are OK to go into the office.
However, if your symptoms are more severe, it may be best to take a sick day. Below are some of the most common symptoms those with a cold or flu feel.
When you experience sniffles without any other symptoms (such as fever or aching), it is usually a sign of allergies. If this is the case, you may want to swing into your local pharmacy for an over-the-counter allergy medication.
However, you are fine to go into work.
One of the most common symptoms of a cold is a headache. Often sneezing, stuffy nose and body aches are included.
If you feel like you are suffering from a cold, it’s best to stay home for a day or two while you get better.
Chills and sweats
If you are sweating without having exerted any physical energy, there is a good chance you have a fever. It’s important that you drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
You should also consider seeing a provider if your fever is higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your sore throat is accompanied by a fever and white patches on your tonsils, you may have strep throat. Because this illness is so contagious, you should see a provider immediately so you can begin an antibiotic treatment.
An ear infection alone is not contagious; however, if you experience cold symptoms along with your earache, you could be contagious for up to three days.
It’s advised that you see a provider who can prescribe an antibiotic if this happens to you.
If a cough is one of your very first (and only) symptoms, you should be fine to go to work. Typically this indicates allergies. But if your cough is much deeper and makes you short of breath, it could be symptomatic of pneumonia or bronchitis.
These should both be treated by a provider immediately.
Are you contagious?
Most people are contagious for a total of 14 days when suffering from either cold or flu symptoms. If you believe you have either of these illnesses, it is smart to stay home for the length of your contagious-period.
If you are unsure whether or not you're contagious, a provider can help you determine where you are in the recovery process.
Certain symptoms, such as a fever, can also indicate if you're contagious or not.
Cold versus the flu
How long you’re out of the office depends on whether you’re suffering from the flu or simply a cold. While a cold can be miserable, it will typically only keep you out of work for two to three days.
The flu, on the other hand, can keep you sick for several weeks.
Usually cold symptoms are less severe than the flu. A cold will typically begin as a sore throat and will turn into a runny nose accompanied by congestion and maybe a cough.
A cold normally subsides within a few days.
The flu on the other hand will come on much quicker with symptoms that are more intense. Symptoms include a fever, soreness of the muscles and a headache.
Depending on the severity of the illness, the flu can also bring about difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Most people associate the flu with the winter months; however, flu season actually begins in early October and lasts through May.
One of the best ways to avoid getting the flu each year is by getting a flu shot at your local CareNow®.
Consider your options
These days, companies are much more flexible with sick days. Because of laptops, many people have the option to work from home if needed, something that wasn't offered even a few years ago.
Communicate with your boss and let him or her know how you feel.
There is a good chance you will be encouraged to stay home if you are exhibiting symptoms of the cold or flu.
Rules for returning to work
Even after you feel well enough to return to work, there is a good chance you are still be contagious.
To keep others in your office from getting sick, practice the following etiquette:
- Never sneeze or cough into your hands; opt for your elbow if possible.
- Let co-workers know you’ve been sick so they can stay sanitized.
- Regularly wash your hands with warm water and soap.
- Call into meetings if you’ve recently been sick.
- Do not shake the hand of coworkers.
- Avoid water foundations as much as possible.
- Sanitize any community office supplies after you have touched them.
- If necessary, wear a respiratory mask.
CareNow® can help
If you are suffering from cold or flu symptoms, consider visiting your local CareNow®. Our highly trained staff is ready to get you back into the office in no time. And be sure to utilize our Web Check-In® so you can avoid the waiting room and head straight back!
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.