Are You Too Sick To Work?

Health Topics

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It’s important to take care of yourself when you’re feeling under the weather, but how do you know if you’re too sick to go to work?  Year round, and especially during cold and flu season, it’s important for you to be aware of the symptoms of contagious illnesses, and do what you can to prevent spreading them.

Some illnesses, particularly the flu, spread through human contact.

Strep throat is another contagious illness that spreads from person-to-person. Like the flu, strep throat can be spread to others, like your co-workers, when you cough or sneeze.

When a contagious illness like flu or strep throat sets in, it’s best for for you and those you work with to call in sick and stay home – and seek medical care – for a faster recovery and to prevent spreading.

It’s also good to know the symptoms of contagious illnesses, and how to tell them apart from less-serious conditions.

Is It the Flu?

The flu can sometimes mimic symptoms of the common cold, so it’s helpful to know the difference.

While each flu virus is unique, there are some symptoms that are telltale signs. Flu symptoms appear with relative speed, usually within three to six hours. The flu causes a fever of 100 degrees or more, body aches that are sometimes severe, chills, headache, and fatigue.

Some of the same symptoms appear with a cold, but they are milder. Cold symptoms take more than a few hours to develop. Fever, headache, and the chills are rare with a cold, and aches and fatigue are usually minimal. More common cold symptoms are stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, or cough.

Flu can spread quickly in the workplace, so when you have the flu, you should stay home, leaving only to see your health care provider. And, if you aren’t sick, but believe that a co-worker is showing symptoms of the flu, you should seek medical attention yourself, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases recommends. Your doctor may be able to prescribe antiviral medications that will help fight the illness faster should you contract it.

If you do get sick, it’s important to know when it’s safe to return to work. If you have a fever with the flu, you should stay home for 24 hours after your fever is gone without the help of medicine.

The best preventive measure of fighting the flu is to receive an annual flu shot.

Is It Strep Throat?  

Strep throat is an infection caused by streptococcus bacteria, and is more common in children than in adults, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. However, adults can still get strep throat and spread it to others.

The streptococcus bacteria can live in your nose and throat and is spread when you cough or sneeze. The droplets from a sneeze or cough can settle on common areas, and the bacteria spreads when someone touches one of these areas and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes.

You can also contract strep throat by eating or drinking after an infected person, or the bacteria can spread through sores from strep skin infections.

Symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen, sore neck glands
  • White patches in the throat or on the tonsils

Children may also experience the following symptoms in addition to those listed above:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Red rash with small spots that is worse under the arms and in skin creases
  • Vomiting

Like the flu, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of strep throat and stay home from work when the signs are present.

Your doctor may conduct a medical screen to confirm you have strep throat, and may prescribe antibiotics to treat it. Many patients improve after a day or two of treatment and should stay home from work until they have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.