SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In the midst of flu season, one local doctor explains the limits for when you can go to work while under the weather.
“Normally we see more of cases in January and February than we do even in November and December,” said Dr. Chan Reyes, with the Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
Dr. Reyes is a family physician and the medical director of the Family Medicine Department at Jordan Valley. She says it’s important to know the difference between a cold and the flu.
“The flu is like 10 times worse than a cold,” Dr. Reyes said. “A lot of times, besides the runny nose, maybe cough, sore throat, you know, the congestion, you will probably have a lot of fevers and chills with the flu, myalgias, which is kind of like muscle aches, and very sensitive skin, lots of chills, maybe even headache and some people might even have diarrhea. So it’s just a lot worse in terms of your symptoms.”
So, how do you know when it’s okay to go into work under the weather or to call in sick instead?
“Gauge the fever,” Dr. Reyes said. “I think that’s the most important sign, probably. So if you do have a fever, which is anything more than 100.4 [degrees] or 100.4 or higher, then, you’re a little more contagious than if you didn’t have a fever and I would recommend that you probably stay home until 24 hours passed when the fever resolves.”
Dr. Reyes says if you can’t miss work, there are things you can do to minimize spreading the virus.
“It might still be contagious but all of us, you know, have to take care of, you know, washing our hands and trying to cough into your elbow and if you use a Kleenex, throw it away right away,” Dr. Reyes said. “Drink plenty of fluids and stay as far away from other people if you can, but some people have to go to work.”
The flu shot, according to Dr. Reyes, is always the best prevention for the flu and it’s not too late to get a vaccination.
“It’s never really too late until we’re saying that flu season is over and we even see cases of flu in March and April,” Dr. Reyes said. “So, this is prime time to get it. If you have not gotten your flu shot, go to your provider and get that. It is the best prevention for the flu.”
Dr. Reyes says the shot doesn’t kick in until about two weeks after you get the vaccine.