It may be tempting to soldier through if you have limited sick days. But doing so risks your recovery and the health of your co-workers. In a recent survey, 90% of individuals confess to going to work while combating a cold or the flu.
Unsure whether to stay home? Are you contagious? The team at Bethel Family Medicine in Brockton, Massachusetts, can help you decide. Here, they explain how to determine if you're too sick for work.
If you're grappling with a mild tickle in your throat or sniffles without achiness or fever and generally feeling fine, chances are you have allergies. Over-the-counter medications can manage allergies, allowing you to attend work without posing a risk.
Decoding your symptoms
A runny nose
If your runny nose isn't due to allergies, it's likely a cold, easily transmissible in a workplace environment.
Flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms
The flu, colds, and COVID-19 can spread through the air, close contact, or contaminated surfaces. Whether you receive a positive COVID-19 test or exhibit symptoms of a cold or flu, the responsible choice for your well-being and your co-workers' safety is to stay home.
Common flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
The flu doesn’t always cause a fever. Still, if you have other flu symptoms, stay home.
A temperature exceeding 100°F signals a contagious illness. It's imperative to stay home until at least 24 hours post-fever resolution.
While ear infections themselves aren't contagious, they’re usually caused by cold symptoms that can be.
If you have an earache, see us for a professional evaluation. You may need an antibiotic prescription.
How long are you contagious?
Peak contagiousness generally occurs when you feel the worst, typically during the second and third days of symptoms. For the flu, the contagious phase initiates about one day before symptom onset and extends 5 to 7 days from the first signs of illness.
How long can germs live on surfaces?
Germs can live on surfaces from minutes to months, depending on various factors. These include:
- The type of germ, which can be bacterium, virus, fungus, or protozoan
- The amount of germs remaining on the surface
- Whether the surface is porous or nonporous
- Room temperature and humidity
Viruses tend to live longer on hard, nonporous surfaces such as stainless steel or plastic versus porous surfaces such as fabric or tissue.
Cold germs can live on surfaces for up to a week but lose their potency after the first 24 hours. The flu virus can live up to 24 to 48 hours on hard surfaces, while the coronavirus can live from a few hours to a few days.
For diagnosis and treatment of the flu, COVID-19, or other winter illnesses, call the office to book an appointment with the professionals at Bethel Family Medicine.