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You Have a Cold—Now What?!
Unless you work with extra-vulnerable young kids or elderly people, a cold isn't enough of a reason to call in sick (sorry!). If you're otherwise healthy, you can suck up a little sniffling and sneezing. (But do a symptom check when you get in: If you feel extremely fatigued, head home.)
Make a beeline for a drugstore. Colds are more apt to cause runny or stuffy noses than the flu, so stock up on saline spray, decongestants, or antihistamines. Take just one med at a time, and don't fall back on a kitchen-sink approach (in other words, avoid drugs that pack headache, sore throat, cough, and congestion relief if you have only a dripping nose). Skip spending on vitamin C—it doesn't work for cold relief.
You should be drinking about 16 ounces more water per day than you normally would. The extra fluid will help loosen, then expel, mucus. Green tea can also be beneficial. And as with the flu, you'll want to eschew sinus-clogging dairy.
On day one, head home early and aim for at least two additional hours of sleep. The more you rest, the better your immune system can slay cold cells.
It's also OK to have a glass of wine after work. A little alcohol won't make your infection worse, but a lot of it can weaken your immune system. So pass on happy hour and boozy dinners; you'll be tempted to guzzle more and stay out late.
The average cold lasts no longer than one week, but don't stop wiping up after yourself. You could still be contagious–sans any symptoms–for a few more days. If you're still sniffling seven days out, your cold may have morphed into a sinus infection (since colds cause inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages, which can back up your sinuses), so see your doctor.
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