Because colds are highly contagious during the first 24 hours, it is recommended that you stay home from work for a day or two. But telling the difference between cold symptoms and signs of non-contagious problems like allergies can be difficult. In some cases you can still be productive later in the day and go in.

If you think you are suffering from the oh-so-common cold, check this quick reference distilled from a WebMD article to see how you should respond to symptoms.

Sniffling:

  • Achy/tired/have a fever: cold or flu, so stay home.
  • No aches/fever: likely allergies, you can work.

Chills/Sweats:

  • Drenched clothes: fever likely, stay home and see doctor if severe (102 degrees+)
  • Fever and white patches on tonsils: stay home, call doctor for strep test.

Coughing:

  • Achy/tired/have a fever: cold or flu, so stay home.
  • No aches/fever: likely allergies, you can work.

Ear pain:

  • Accompanies cold symptoms: stay home, call doctor.
  • No cold symptoms: call doctor.

Sinus pain: stay home, likely only for 1 day.

Headache:

  • With sneezing/congestion/aches: likely a cold, stay home.
  • Cannot tolerate noise/light: migraine, consult doctor for medication to resume day.

Eye:

  • Red eyes, white/yellow stuff in eye corners, matted eyelashes: pinkeye – stay home and call doctor.
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