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When You Should Call in Sick

You might be feeling really crummy, but how do you know when to drag yourself to work, or just stay home and get better?

On "The Early Show," CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said there are really three questions you should ask yourself before you decide what to do when you're not feeling well.

Special Section: Dr. Jennifer Ashton
Video Series: Dr. Ashton's Health and Wellness

AM I CONTAGIOUS?
If you have a viral or bacterial illness, you'll expose your co-workers and make everyone sick. Staying home will contain the illness and make you much more popular.

WILL RESTING HELP ME GET BETTER?
Sometimes just resting will speed up the recovery. But people feel they have to go to work. But you can end up a lot sicker than you would have if you just stayed home that first day and fought the infection.

COULD MEDICATIONS IMPAIR MY WORK?
Lots of drugs can make your brain a little fuzzy, especially medications for back pain. They can also make you unsteady on your feet. So operating any equipment or driving can really be dangerous.

Ashton said, "So many people are afraid to call in sick, they can't call in sick, they feel their job really depends on them. Your job actually depends on you being there and being healthy and functional and doing the best job you can. Sometimes you can't when you are not feeling well."

So you're sick, what can you do to speed along your recovery?

Ashton said drinking a lot of fluids is a great place to start.

She said, "Most important thing: If you call your doctor and say, 'I think I have a cold or flu,' they will say, 'Stay in bed, hydrate yourself, drink a lot of fluids, chicken soup and let it run its course.' That is key. You can really get dehydrated certainly with a fever and so replacing those fluids is important."

But how do you know what you have? Is that just a runny nose or a sinus infection?

Ashton said, "We usually go by two things. A lot of the common colds do then segway into bacterial infections. For sinuses you talk about two things, how long have you had it. Is it lasting more than two weeks -- and is it green? If it is, you need antibiotics."

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