Too Sick to Work?
How sick is too sick to go to work? Advice on when you should just stay home.
Too Sick to Work: Colds and Flu continued...
The onset is most infectious because of “a high viral load,” Cummins says,
“but people can be contagious for several days or even up to a week.”
A cold doesn’t always bring fever, but some people develop a mild one at the
“Even though fever makes you feel terrible, it’s actually your friend
because it’s your body’s attempt to get rid of whatever ails you,” says Linda
Haynes, MD, an associate clinical professor of family medicine at the
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
What’s a true fever? Many patients, even nurses on occasion, will report a
fever to Haynes if they get a thermometer reading of 99 degrees. “That’s not a
fever,” Haynes says. “Technically, we consider a fever anything over 100.3
Resting at home when you have a fever or severe cold symptoms, such as lots
of coughing and sneezing, will not only aid your recovery, but also spare your
coworkers from infectious droplets.
If you have mild coughing and sneezing and no fever -- and you feel that you
need to go to work -- take measures to reduce chances of infecting others. Be
sure to cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing. Wash your hands frequently
to prevent transmission, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Compared to colds, flu symptoms are more severe and tend to come on
abruptly. The flu also penetrates deeper into the respiratory tract. Often, the
flu announces itself with chills. Fever is also common in the first few days,
and a sick person’s temperature may rise to 102 or 103 degrees. Other flu
signs: muscle aches, headache, a runny nose, sore throat, cough, weakness, and
The flu delivers a punch powerful enough that many people want to take to
bed for a few days. Again, fever and severe symptoms are strong signs that
you're too sick to work and should stay home. The flu usually goes away in
seven to 10 days in otherwise healthy people, although they may still have a
cough and feel tired when they return to work. Although most people will need a
few days off to recuperate, they can go back to the workplace 24 to 48 hours
after their temperature has returned to normal.
Too Sick to Work: Sinus Infection
An acute sinus infection can cause yellow or green nasal discharge, nasal
stuffiness, facial pain or pressure, headache, or aching in the upper jaw and
If you feel too sick to work, stay home. You may have so much throbbing
facial pain or headache that you can’t concentrate on your job. Try some
Use decongestants for a few days, Haynes says. Nasal irrigation with saline
solution also helps to cleanse the sinuses. “Some people get tremendous relief
that way,” Cummins says.