Q: I have a cold. Should I take the day off from work or tough it out and go in?
A: Stay home for the first day or two, especially if you have a fever over 100 degrees and are coughing up greenish mucus, a possible sign of bronchitis or the flu. “Pushing yourself may cause your body to take longer to get over the cold,” says Neil Schachter, MD, author of The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu. Not getting enough rest can also worsen underlying health problems such as asthma. Plus, you’re most contagious the first two days, so your co-workers will probably be grateful if you stay home. “And with BlackBerries, cell phones and the Internet, you can be in touch with work and still get rest,” adds Dr. Schachter.
If you have a slight cold and can’t afford time off, take steps to limit the spread of germs: Stay at your desk as much as you can, and sit at the head of the table in meetings to put distance between you and others. Wash hands often, and use an alcohol-based sanitizer to limit the spread of germs on doorknobs, elevator buttons and other commonly touched spots. Germs can also become airborne, so don’t leave used tissues lying around.