It is a common conundrum at this time of year: after a couple of days with a tissue box in bed, as tasks pile up in your absence and you remind yourself "you're always more congested when you wake up", should you make a brave return to work?
Then there's the other side of the (probably quite germy) coin: being faced with someone "chucking a wellie" (attending work while sick) who is sniffing and spluttering their cold all over the hot desks.
But, when should a person who's had a cold or flu come back to the office?
How do you know you’re well enough to be back at work?
"I would say people are no longer contagious when they don't have the runny nose, they don't have the sore throat, and they don't have a fever or a feeling of a fever," says Dominic Dwyer, director of public health pathology at NSW Health and clinical professor at the University of Sydney, clarifying that this is a different question than whether you are "feeling better".
However, a cough, while it might be annoying for those around you, is not necessarily a risk for your colleagues if your other symptoms have subsided.
"A cough after a respiratory illness can persist for longer, particularly if people have asthma."
When assessing whether you can return to your desk, Professor Dwyer says you should take into account your general health.
"If you've got an underlying illness, like diabetes, or some other form of immune suppression, maybe you should be a bit more cautious," he says.
You should also consider what your workplace is like. If you work in a crowded environment with a lot of contact with clients and colleagues, in the healthcare industry, or close to someone with a suppressed immune system (such as an organ transplant recipient) an extra day or two at home might be the safer option.
Ultimately, Professor Dwyer says people often attend work when they shouldn't, advising us to err on the side of caution when deciding if we are "over" a cold or flu.
"People do feel they've got to soldier on, but I think that's the worst thing people should do," he says.
"I know that if you don't go to work you're maybe letting your colleagues down, or making more work for yourself when you get back, but it's really more important that you don't go to work when you're sick."
… and what about the gym?
We often hear about the benefits of "sweating it out". But, if you have a cold, should you really just rest up and come back to the gym once you're feeling better?
Jacinta Brinsley, clinical exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia, says this is a question she is asked a lot. And, unfortunately, the answer is: it depends.
"Obviously we don't want you in the gym if you're contagious, your body needs to heal and get better."
If you are feeling drowsy, or off-balance, Ms Brinsley recommends delaying your return to the gym.
However, she says exercise can be great once you're over that initial illness, you just need to check in with how your body is responding to it.
"If you feel that exercise is adding energy to you, versus if you feel that exercise is leaving you wiped out for the rest of the day: it's something for you to assess," she says, adding that increased respiratory rate and core temperature can be great for the immune system.
Ms Brinsley also says it is important to remember that a workout doesn't have to be intense.
"If you feel like you need movement, stretch, do some yoga, do something gentle."
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