Are you too sick to travel? A local doctor explains what symptoms to look for before canceling your trip

If you’re traveling for the holidays and start to feel sick, you may be worried about whether you should cancel your trip. WTOP spoke with a local doctor for details on what symptoms you should watch out for when making your decision.

If all you have is a stuffy or runny nose that is two or three days old, Dr. Niharika Khanna, a professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine says, “you are not too sick to travel.”

She said if it’s just a runny nose, you should wear a mask and probably don’t have to cancel your flight, but only if you aren’t visiting someone over the age of 65, someone who is immunocompromised, or babies.

When should you stay at home and cancel that flight?

“When you develop a fever, when you have severe headaches, when you have a productive cough that is recent … and you’re bringing up colorful mucus. If you haven’t seen the doctor yet, you don’t know what it is that you have,” she said.

And when you start to show any respiratory symptoms, she said it’s time to protect yourself and others.

“That’s a good reason to wear a mask,” she said. “Wash your hands and try to practice being as safe as you can.”

And how do you tell the difference between just having allergies and maybe having something more contagious?

“When you start getting those heavy congestions, discharges from your nose or when you have a new cough that appeared two, three days ago — those are not allergies,” she said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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