How do you know if you’re too sick to go to work?

Not feeling 100%? Dr. Dana Vlachos, a family medicine physician with Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill., outlines handy guidelines for when you should to go to work or school and when it’s best to stay home.

Should I stay or should I go?


  • Stay home: You have a temperature of 100.4 or higher
  • Go: You are fever-free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medications like Tylenol or Motrin


  • Stay home: You have a fever, body aches or shortness of breath
  • Go: You have a cough without any of these other symptoms and you’re able to wash your hands and cover your cough.


  • Stay home: You have vomited within the past 24 hours.
  • Go: You have kept at least two solid meals down.


  • Stay home: You have had this within the past 24 hours.
  • Go: You have been free from diarrhea for at least 24 hours.

Eye infection

  • Stay home: There is redness, itching and/or crusty drainage from the eye.
  • Go: You have been evaluated by a doctor and have been cleared to return to work/school.

Head lice

  • Stay home: Itchy head with active lice.
  • Go: You have been treated by an approved home or facility treatment and you have proof from a nurse that you no longer have lice.

If you have been seen by a physician in an emergency department or have been admitted to the hospital, do not return to work or school until your doctor has given you the all-clear.

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