Cold & Flu

When should you stay home with a cold?

You’ve got plenty to do and usually you don’t want to let your cold symptoms put a halt to your day, but sometimes it’s OK to stay at home and take care of yourself. Resting the body and feeding it nutritious foods is a great way to help you recover. And if that means treating your cold symptoms with a cold medicine while you’re resting in bed under a blanket, so be it. Your colleagues will thank you for not infecting them and you’ll feel better sooner.


If you are diligent about hand washing, going to work with mild sniffles, sneezing, or a cough is less risky for spreading germs to your colleagues. But you should stay at home if:

You have a fever You have a bad cough (frequent, loud, painful) that isn’t relieved by a cough suppressant You’re taking a cold medicine that makes you drowsy You’re just too tired or achy to function at work

Where you work and what you do are also factors, of course. If you need to be alert and physically active to work safely, stay at home if you’re not fully functioning or are taking a cold medicine that might make you drowsy (look at the drug facts on your medicine). If you work with infants, elderly people, or anyone with a compromised immune system, protect their health by staying at home until your cold symptoms have gone away.


While you can’t cure your cold with medication, there are "cold defence" products designed to be used at the first signs of a cold and help you stop it in its tracks, before the symptoms develop into a full-blown cold.

And if your cold is established, you can treat your symptoms with cold medicines such as cough syrups/lozenges, and decongestant nasal sprays/capsules, or multi-symptom relief syrups/capsules. As simple as it sounds, rest is important and effective. Conserving your energy gives your body a chance to recuperate, and staying at home (in bed) means you aren’t exposed to additional germs. Drinking lots of fluids is also important because you need to replace fluids your body is losing through nasal secretions and perspiration (if you have a fever). Skip alcohol and caffeine, since they hasten dehydration. Using a cool-mist humidifier may also help.

If a cold has really laid you low, lasted for 10 days or more, or is accompanied by a persistent high fever, it may have developed into a secondary infection such as sinusitis. In that case, you may want to see a doctor.