WASHINGTON NEWS SERVICE: SEATTLE - How sick is sick enough to stay home from school or work?
With so many obligations, the decision can be tough, but it's also vitally important during flu season. Already, 20 people have died from the flu in Washington state this season, according to health officials.
Dr. Angie Sparks, medical director for clinical knowledge and development at Kaiser Permanente, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests staying home with a fever over 100, and staying home another 24 hours after your temperature dips back below 100 so you don't spread the virus.
She says the extended isolation also helps you recover.
"You have to think about who you might expose to infection," Sparks stresses. "You have to think about, 'If I don't get the rest I need to get better, am I going to be sick longer and miss more work?'
"And then, you have to think about if you're on any medications that might impair your ability to be effective."
The flu is considered widespread in Washington state right now. Flu season typically lasts through the end of March.
Sparks warns while younger and older people are most susceptible, pregnant women should also keep track of any flu-like symptoms.
Sparks says if folks have to go to school or to the office, they need to cover their mouths when they cough.
"The kids these days are being taught to cough 'like Dracula,' or my kids like 'the dab,' so there's always an elbow covering your cough," she states.
Sparks also suggests wearing a mask, having meetings by phone when possible, and using good hand hygiene.
Lastly, she says it's important to take good care of yourself because, in her words, "You can't give what you don't have."