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Common Cold: Too Sick to Work?

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You wake up in the morning and you're not feeling so great. Maybe sneezing is your No. 1 problem. Or you've got a doozy of a headache. Whatever is bothering you, you've got a decision to make: Stay home or head to work?

Take stock of your symptoms and see if they meet this commonsense standard for calling in sick:

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If you've the sniffles, but you're not achy or feverish and feel fine otherwise, you probably have allergies. It's OK to go to work.

You can turn to several over-the-counter medicines to treat mild allergies. But keep in mind that some medications, such as diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine, can make you sleepy. Drugs with less of this side effect include loratidine and cetirizine.

If your hay fever is severe or doesn't get better with antihistamines, you might want to see an allergist. He can do tests to find out what's triggering the problem. He may recommend allergy shots to reduce your symptoms.

For in-depth information, see Allergy or Cold Symptoms?

Chills and Sweats

If your clothes are getting drenched, you most likely have a fever. Make sure you drink plenty of liquids. Consider seeing your doctor, especially if your temperature is over 102 degrees F. That could be a sign that you have the flu. Stay away from work -- and friends -- until you feel better.

If you have a fever plus white patches on your tonsils, you may have strep throat. It's highly contagious and you may need an antibiotic. Call your doctor for a test that can confirm the diagnosis.

For in-depth information, see Sore Throat: Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?

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