We are all busy with work life, home life and everything in between. We don't have time to get sick. It is such a nuisance. We tend to slog on; catching some extra rest when we can, hoping to recover quickly enough that our daily routine is not interrupted. You may even subconsciously consider the lack of days missed at work as a badge of honor, a symbol of toughness or even superiority. Most of the time this strategy works well, and we get back to health fairly quickly. The human body has an amazing capacity to regenerate and recover from illness. There are times, though, that you should shut down, stay home and rest.
There are two reasons to stay home when ill. The first is to prevent the spread of disease to others. This is especially true if we work around those who are very young or very old. As much as your boss wants you at work, if you infect five coworkers, it will make the situation exponentially worse. Your exercise buddies at the gym will appreciate not being exposed as well. Most viruses are infective within the first 4-5 days from the time that symptoms occurred. If a fever is present and has resolved, that is usually a good sign that the immune system has the infection under control and the person is no longer infectious. Apart from chicken pox and tuberculosis, which can be transmitted through airborne particles, most diseases require contact with mucous. Good hand washing is essential to prevent spread. Make sure to avoid coughing into your hand. Use your elbow or a tissue.
The second reason to stay home is to allow your body the rest that it needs to recover. A high fever above 101.5 degrees, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea and shortness of breath are all signs that indicate a more severe illness. It is important to not only rest, but also to stay well-hydrated. Dehydration makes muscles more likely to cramp and will slow the recovery. A simple way to judge hydration is to look at your urine. If it is not a pale yellow, more water is needed. Going to the gym in this phase of illness is likely to make it all worse. Listen to your body. Give it a chance to work its magic. When the illness takes a turn for the better, increasing your activity is good, but it must be done gently. A gentle 15-minute walk on the treadmill will stimulate the flow of blood and lymph, the circulation of which will speed recovery by delivering your white blood cells where they need to go and flushing out the toxins that are building up from the disease. An hour of hard core spinning will deplete your energy stores, exacerbate dehydration and likely trigger a relapse.
Illness always occurs at a bad time. There is never a convenient time to be sick. Hopefully the suggestions above will help guide you to a quick recovery as well as keep those around you free from disease. Remember, the next time your body cries out, "Give it a rest," listen up.