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Limit viruses at workplace and school - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 10/27/2013

OGDEN - Last night you may have gone to bed with a slight tickle in your throat, but by morning that tickle turned into a bad sore throat accompanied by fever, chills and body aches. Are you sick enough to stay home or should you drag your behind to work and risk exposing everyone in the office?

"This time of year we see more viral illness for several reasons," said Dr. Kerry Reynolds, a physician assistant at Ogden Clinic. "Viruses are more stable at cooler temperatures. They stay in the air longer and their lifespan is longer."

Another reason has to do with how our bodies react to colder weather, Reynolds said. Our nose acts as a humidifier for air entering the body. Cool or cold air causes our nose to work harder, producing more mucus, which causes runny noses. This increases the likelihood of passing fluids through wiping or blowing our nose, and touching hand to door, hand to grocery cart or hand-to-hand contact.

With a cold, you might feel a little tired and run down, but typically, you can make your way through a work day, Reynolds said. A sore throat can be bothersome during the workday but it's not contagious by itself.

"However, a sore throat can be the initial sign of a viral illness yet to manifest other symptoms," he said.

If you also have a fever, Reynolds said to stay home. A fever is the immune system's normal response to fighting an illness. According to WebMD, fever is also a red flag during influenza season. To make matters worse, a fever can oftentimes be accompanied by chills.

If you have a cough, you may risk losing a few friends at the office as well. Coughing spreads germs and can get everyone around you sick.

"If coughing has kept you up the night before, rest up for a day and see how you feel the following day," Reynolds said. "If you don't show signs of improvement after 24 hours see your primary care provider."

Sneezing? Reynolds said a good rule of thumb is the color of discharge.

If it's clear, go to work. You probably have an allergy. Green or yellow? You may have something more serious that requires antibiotics. Stay home and visit your doctor.

If you're tired, go to work. Reynolds said fatigue can oftentimes be debilitating but it's not contagious.

"However, be vigilant because fatigue may indicate you are coming down with something," he said.

If you have muscle aches and pains and feel like you've been "run over by a truck," stay home. According to WebMD, body aches may indicate the flu or another serious infection.

Appetite not up to snuff? You may want to stay home and sip on clear liquids, but if you're well enough to eat? You probably should go to the office, Reynolds said.

The same rules apply for children going to school, Reynolds said.

Even if you take all of the precautions and stay home, there will still be those who go to work and send their children to school with an illness, so how can you protect yourself? Stay clear and keep your hands clean.

If you can't miss work, Reynolds said keep your hands clean, cough into your elbow, consider wearing a mask and avoid hand-to-hand contact with others.

"The same goes for children. If a sick child goes to school, the likelihood of sharing their germs with others is almost definite," Reynolds said. "Be courteous to others and keep your children home. If you send them to school you may get a call later in the day to come get your child, or worse, your child's best friend takes the illness home to a more susceptible infant sibling or grandparent. It's better to make up missed schoolwork than risk getting others sick."