“Sometimes when you're just starting to feel sick, it's hard to tell whether you're really getting sick or whether it's just a minor cold,” says Dr. Ann Falsey, an infectious disease specialist at Rochester General Hospital.
Which raises the question: when should you call in sick for work?
“We don't feel that people have to stay home for a trivial illness. Whether it's a respiratory illness or a GI bug,” says Falsey.
There are symptoms to look out for that indicate you may be contagious to your co-workers, topping the list: a fever.
“If you have a fever, you should stay home, for your coworkers for yourself, if you're in healthcare, for your patients,” says Falsey.
If you don't have a fever, let your symptoms guide you. If you have a stuffy nose and a little cold medication helps, you can probably make it into work. However, if you have an "uncontrolled" respiratory illness, stay home.
“If you are blowing your nose so much that you get the virus on your hands that you have to be able to wash your hands and not be touching your hands and be blowing your nose...otherwise you're going to spread it to other people,” says Falsey.
Here are a few things you can do to keep workplace illness at bay this season:
1. Keep hand sanitizer at your desk
2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
3. Keep your workspace clean
4. Wipe down keyboards and phones
5. Consider a multivitamin this time of year.
6. Get your flu shot
Falsey also says if you think you are being a "hero" by coming to work extremely ill...think again.
“There's something about feeling like you're stoic and can work through everything but really you're exposing your co-workers to infection and it's really not fair to them.”
For more information on guidelines to calling in sick for work, contact Rochester General Hospital’s information line: (585) 922-LINK.