Feeling Sick? The Real Reasons You Should Stay Home

During this time of year, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until you get sick. When you feel those dreaded symptoms that could mean a cold or the flu, you likely ask yourself, should I stay home from work? Before you rush to decide that you’ll tough it out at work, it’s important to identify what your symptoms could mean.

So…is it a cold or the flu?

Symptoms of a cold: runny nose, cough, sneezing, headache and sore throat. Cold symptoms tend to be milder than flu symptoms. Cold symptoms often come on gradually.

Symptoms of the flu: fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle aches. You may also have an upset stomach and/or vomiting. Flu symptoms tend to come on quickly.

Symptoms of something more serious: shortness of breath or fast breathing, thick yellow or green mucus that comes up with coughing, worsening symptoms, especially after a period of improvement, fever with a rash, severe or continued vomiting, trouble waking up, or blood in the vomit or stool.

Why should you stay home?

You could make it worse. When you’re sick, your body is using all of its energy to fight off the infection, especially if you have fever. If you choose not to give your body the extra rest it needs, you’re likely to drag the illness out and feel even worse. However, by providing your body with the extra sleep it needs, you’re likely to bounce back faster.

You’ll be distracted. When you aren’t feeling well, it’s hard to stay focused on the task at hand. With symptoms like a stuffy nose, a headache and a cough, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to concentrate enough to get anything done at work. Furthermore, the stress you’ll feel struggling to get work done may negatively affect the immune system.

You’ll be uncomfortable. With a wide-range of symptoms ranging from head-to-toe, it’s important to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Whether that means curling up with a blanket, keeping the curtains closed, or using a humidifier; it’s doubtful your workplace can provide these comforts. On top of that, if you are experiencing any digestive issues, you’ll be better off using your own bathroom rather than the one at work.

You’ll get other people sick. It's far easier to spread the near 200 different viruses that can cause colds or the flu than you might think. These viruses spread in droplets when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes. It’s possible for people to inhale the germs directly; they can also pick up the virus by touching a surface where droplets have landed.

What should you do to feel better?

Treat a troubled nose kindly. Breathe steam or heated humidified air to open blocked nasal passages. Standing in a hot shower works well in place of a humidifier or vaporizer.

Also, try using a saline nasal sprays and/or decongestant tablets. Antihistamines can also help, but they can actually cause side effects that may exacerbate symptoms, such as drowsiness and drying of the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Soothe a sore throat and cough. Gargle every 2 hours with 1/4 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1/2 cup of warm water. While it may sound unpleasant, it actually works by pulling the mucus out of your irritated tissue, relieving pain.

You can also suck on throat lozenges and cough drops to moisten your throat. Stick to those that provide cooling with ingredients like menthol or eucalyptus.

Ease digestive problems. The primary goal is to put fluid back into your body. Take frequent sips of clear liquids such as water or broth; you can also drink sports drinks, too. Do not drink beverages with a lot of sugar in them, such as juices and sodas as these can make diarrhea worse.

While symptoms persist, stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast). These are safe foods are low in fiber and will help settle your stomach, as well as replace vital nutrients. As your appetite returns, you can resume your normal diet.


Don’t put off going to the doctor. When you aren’t feeling well, it’s difficult to know the right time to see a doctor. At the very least, if you aren’t feeling better after 7 days, it’s time to head to the doctor’s office. However, keep in mind that the experts at ChoiceOne Urgent Care, a partner of Gwinnett Medical Center, can always help! With experienced specialists, thorough treatment options and a comforting, spa-like environment, relief is just a convenient office visit away. 

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