Ah the age old question… how sick is too sick to go into work when you have a cold? Do you power through like a trooper because you are that committed? Or do you stay home and potentially have the finger pointed at you for chucking a sickie?

Chances are, this winter we’ll all get sick at some point whether it’s a full blown flu or a common cold, but most people can’t afford to take too much time off work when symptoms are still lingering around for weeks.

So, if you haven’t practiced prevention is better than cure (or followed cold prevention tips), the question stands:

When should we go back to work after we’ve had a cold?

According to Dr Sara Whitburn, spokesperson for the Royal Australian College of General Practice, here’s how to gauge how long you should confine yourself and your germs to your home, and when it is safe to return.

Infection with a cold or flu usually brings with it a host of health complaints, says Dr Whitburn, which may include:

·        Fever

·        Cough

·        Sore throat

·        Runny or stuffy nose

·        Muscle or body aches

·        Headaches

·        Fatigue (very tired)

·        Some people may have vomiting and diarrhoea

She says most people are very contagious in the first three to four days of the illness.

“This can range from the one to two days before, and last up to five to seven days after the start of symptoms. It can take up to two weeks for the symptoms to resolve,” she says.

How long should you stay home when you have a cold?
“While you have symptoms, you are contagious and so you should stay away from work for at least the first three to four days, and for some people this will be closer to five to seven days if they are taking longer to recover. You also need to rest and recover and so may need up to two weeks before you can return,” she advises.

She says the contagious period is the same for a cold and the flu, as colds are caused by viruses as well.

“Cold symptoms are like flu, but tend to start more gradually and be less severe. You should follow the same recommendations as above when it comes to staying away from work,” says Dr Whitburn.

While I always try and keep my immune system in tip top shape via taking a probiotic and olive leaf, being busy plus having germ fuelled kiddies means its pretty likely that I’ll get a cold or two so when I do, these are in my bag of tricks to reducing the severity:

·       Soup. And lots of it. Maybe its just the warming comfort, the memories of having it when I was little or the fact its pact to the brim with veggies and broth that does it. Either way, dig in!

·       Juices. The more colour the better! Remember to add things like lemon and kiwi fruit for its vitamin C super powers and ginger for its warming circulatory goodness.

·       Supplement for a little extra. Check out Blackmores range for cold and flu I’m a herb lover and usually go for something like the Blackmores Echinacea ACE + Zinc is a daily supplement for regular use that combines echinacea with antioxidant nutrients to support the immune system. Echinacea and vitamin C may reduce the severity and duration of colds.

·       Rest. Yep, totally permission to Netflix binge for a solid 24 hours and do nothing else so your body can put energy into healing itself (with the helping hand of the above tips).

What about you? Anything we missed that makes you feel better when sick?