What Is The Cold What Is The Flu
Most colds are caused by rhinoviruses, though other pathogens like coronavirus, parainfluenza and respiratory syncytial virus are sources, too. All can lead to serious complications like bronchitis and pneumonia, especially in individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma, and in those with compromised immune systems.
Influenza A is the main family of viruses behind the flu in humans. The CDC estimates 12,000 to 56,000 American deaths are attributable to the flu each year, while the World Health Organization estimates the virus kills up to 650,000 people worldwide.
Viruses are nonliving pieces of genetic code DNA or RNA covered in protein coats known as capsids. Flu viruses and many cold viruses also have a viral envelope, meaning the capsid is covered by two layers of lipids similar to the cell membranes found on organisms.
Individuals with cold or flu infections can spread contagious viruses before symptoms begin. Photo by Subbotina Anna/Adobe Stock
Viruses cant multiply on their own they must infect the cells of a living creature. Because they arent actually living entities, using terms like live or survive to describe viruses outside the body can cause confusion, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Does Tamiflu Shorten The Contagious Period
Other than these methods, some antiviral medications may shorten the flus contagious period. Tamiflu is a medication used to lessen the severity of symptoms, and shorten the overall duration of illness which in turn may decrease how long someone is contagious. .Studies show that Tamiflu shortens the average length of the flu by one day, but it is important to start treatment as soon as possible from the time of symptom onset ideally within 48 hours.
Tamiflu can also help prevent the flu if someones been exposed to a confirmed case of the flu. However, its important to remember that Tamiflu isnt a replacement for an annual influenza vaccine.
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Preventing The Flu After Exposure
Although there are various products and remedies that may claim to help prevent illness once you’ve been exposed to the flu, none of them have proven to be effective. Your best bet to prevent the flu is to get your annual flu vaccine. Although it’s not 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, it gives you a much better chance of avoiding the illness than anything else.
If you are exposed to someone with the flu, avoid close contact with the person and wash your hands frequently.
- Vitamin C: Although vitamin C is widely used and has many benefits, there is no scientific proof that it will help you avoid an illness such as the flu or a cold.
- Humidifiers: Evidence suggests that viruses such as the cold and flu spread more easily in cold, dry air. This is one of the reasons that they’re more common during the winter. Running a humidifier in your home during the winter can help keep your nasal passages moist. And while there’s no guarantee that this will prevent you from getting sick, it can’t hurt .
- Antiviral medications: If you’re at high risk for complications from the flu and you know you were exposed to it, talk to your healthcare provider about taking antiviral medications. It can help prevent influenza in some people and will reduce the severity of the symptoms in those who do get it.
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How Long Do Cold And Flu Viruses Stay Contagious On Public Surfaces
Tis the season for gathering with friends and family to share latkes and gingerbread, but also for those dreaded colds and bouts of the flu.
As temperatures drop, both illnesses start to tick up, as does the risk of taking you, your co-workers and loved ones down one-by-one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the average person gets two to three colds per year mostly in the winter and spring. The country as a whole sees 9.3 to 49 million cases of the flu annually.
Before you isolate yourself inside your home and scrub every surface in sight, you should know that these pathogens dont actually last for days or weeks outside the body, as commercials for some cleaning products might suggest. Thats because cold and flu viruses, despite their ferocity inside our warm bodies, are structurally wimpy and cannot bear the harsh conditions of the dry, outside world.
Heres what you should know about how long these pesky viruses persist and how you can protect yourself.
Is It Possible To Get The Flu Even After Vaccination
Getting a flu vaccine greatly reduces the risk of getting the flu but it does not guarantee that a child will not get the flu. In developing the vaccine, physicians and scientists make a best guess based on recent flu patterns to determine the most likely flu strains for the season. Unfortunately, there can be strains circulating in the environment that are not in the vaccine. The flu vaccine includes three strains of the influenza virus. The good news is that even if the vaccine strains and the circulating strains are not perfect matches, the vaccine can still provide some protection because viral strains share similarities. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to elicit the proper protective response, so if someone is infected soon after receiving the vaccine, or if he or she was exposed to the virus before receiving the vaccine, symptoms can still develop.
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When Am I Most Contagious
People with the flu are the most contagious during the first three to four days after symptoms begin.
|How long is the flu contagious?|
|1 day before symptoms develop||3-4 days after symptoms begin||5-7 days after symptoms begin|
|Start becoming contagious||Most contagious||Still contagious even if you feel completely better|
Note: This table is only a generalization. The CDC reports that young children and people with weakened immune systems may be contagious after seven days.
Symptoms of the flu can start to appear anywhere from one to four days after getting the flu virus, and even though most cases of the flu resolve in a week, symptoms can last up to several weeks for some people. Here are the most common symptoms of the flu:
- Runny nose
Are You Too Sick To Work
First and foremost, consider whether you are putting yourself or others at risk if you go to work. You’re putting others at risk if you or your children have a contagious illness . You’re putting yourself at risk if the symptoms of your condition, or the side effects of medication, could cause you to have an accident on the job, injure others, or produce devastating mistakes in your work product. Putting anyone in harm’s way is a clear reason to stay home.
For both the cold and the flu, early symptoms may be similar. Symptoms and signs include a cough, runny nose, and feeling tired. If you know you have had contact with someone with a cold or the flu in the past few days, you should suspect you may have become infected. However, flu symptoms generally are more intense than cold symptoms. People with flu can develop fever, body aches, chills, and headaches, and some develop nausea and vomiting. Cold symptoms are much milder and usually do not require medical care. However, if you suspect you have the flu, you should seek medical care. The flu often can be diagnosed with rapid tests available to most physicians.
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When And For How Long Is Your Flu Contagious
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Coming out of a flu can be a truly transformative experience. That first fever-free morning, complete with the ability to breathe through both nostrils, can be enough to make you jump for joy. And even though you may feel like youre ready to rejoin the land of the living , should you?
The answer to that is as much political as it is clinical, says Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious diseases specialist and chief of staff at Humber River Hospital in Toronto.
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The question of when youre contagious has been used as justification for certain hospital policies. Theres reasonably good data about when youre likely contagious and when youre not, but the reality is we dont have complete answers.
Cold And Flu Preventative Measures
By understanding the modes of transmission, these preventative measures make sense:
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against the common cold, which is why other preventive measures are so important.
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The Best Treatment Is To Take Steps To Prevent Illness
Few common illnesses are more unpleasant than the flu. The aches and pains, chills, fever, and cough are bad enough add in the other potential symptoms of flu, including runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or sore throat, and you’ll want the illness to be over as soon as possible. How long does the flu last? And does treating flu help make it go away faster? The answers depend on your particular health.
How To Treat The Flu
In addition to Tamiflu, the CDC recommends three other FDA-approved medications to treat the flu, which are Relenza , Rapivab , and Xofluza .
Aside from antivirals, some homeopathic medicines have shown to help treat the flu. If the flu invades your household this winter, you will be well-prepared by having stocked up on Boiron Oscillococcinum, says Ken Redcross, MD, author of Bond: The 4 Cornerstones of a Lasting and Caring Relationship with Your Doctor and founder of Redcross Concierge. Clinical studies show that when used at the first signs, Oscillococcinum helps relieve the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills, and fatigue. This homeopathic medicine is widely available in local supermarkets or pharmacies for everyone ages 2 and up.
If youre interested in learning more about how to prevent or treat the flu, you can always schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. With flu season just around the corner, its still a good idea to be prepared in case you get sick.
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Treating Cold And Flu
Both cold and flu cause symptoms that can disrupt daily life. In most cases, viral infections run their course relatively quickly without any treatment.
Many people find relief after treating the symptoms of these illnesses, however. A wide range of drugs help treat the symptoms of cold and flu. These are available over the counter .
There is also a selection of cold and flu medication available for purchase online.
These medications may be useful if severe symptoms make normal function difficult. In some people with influenza, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications.
Some people choose to take preventive action against flu in the form of vaccines. Creating a vaccine for a constantly evolving virus is difficult.
However, the CDC report that the vaccine reduces the risk of contracting the flu by
How Long Does Fever Last With Flu
Although, all flu patients need not contract fever, an increase in body temperature is mostly experienced with flu. The fever can range from low grade, i.e. above 98.6°F to 100°F, to as high as 104°F. Kids tend to have higher temperatures which can even reach up to 106°F. Certain people may feel feverish and chilled simultaneously. The fever can last for a duration of up to a week.
The Final Word
Flu or Influenza can take a major toll on the general health and overall well being of an individual. It knocks them off their feet and jets them straight into bed. The patient remains infectious for up to 5 to 7 days after the 1st flu symptoms surface. This is because the more the individual sneezes and coughs, more infectious droplets they shoot into the air and onto objects around them.
Flu medicines do not help in restricting the spread of the illness. These drugs can only shorten the duration of the sickness and also the length of time for which the person can spread this contagious disease. People consuming antiviral medications to treat their flu can still infect other people and make them sick. The ideal way to keep flu at bay is by getting vaccinated against this illness every year. Further, flu patients should listen to their doctors advice and stay away from others even when they start feeling a little better. This is the best way to restrict the spread of the flu virus and influenza.
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Easy Ways To Cope With Cold And Flu Viruses
1. Clean your hands often with an alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water
2. Get an annual flu shot before the start of flu season
3. Ease your symptoms with NeoCitran over-the-counter cold and flu medicines
4. Use household cleaning products to disinfect areas where germs may spread, such as bathroom surfaces, tables near beds and door handles, etc.
How Long To Stay Home
Experts generally agree that it’s best to stay home as long as you have severe symptoms, like a cough with mucus, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or fatigue, because you may be contagious. And the CDC recommends staying home at least 24 hours after your fever goes away unless you need to leave the house for medical care or other urgent reasons.
Also, rest is an important part of getting over any illness, so there’s another reason to take it easy while you feel sick.
How quickly you recover from a cold or the flu depends on how healthy you are. In general, healthy people usually get over a cold in 7 to 10 days. Flu symptoms, including fever, should go away after about 5 days, but you may still have a cough and feel weak a few days longer. All your symptoms should be gone within 1 to 2 weeks.
When you go back to work or school, make sure to cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands often so you don’t spread the illness to other people.
These viruses can develop into serious illnesses like pneumonia in people who have weak immune systems, asthma, or other respiratory conditions. So if you have a chronic illness, your healing time may be different.
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Protect Yourself And Others
Most people know that they should stay home when they have an illness like the flu . But its hard to avoid spreading the virus if you dont even know you have it.
This is one of the reasons why the flu vaccine is so important. If you get the flu shot, your body will have a chance to fight it off before it spreads to your body, and youre less likely to pass it on to others or get sick yourself.
Know when to call in sick for work, wash your hands often, and make sure those you come in contact with do the same. Cover your cough and do everything possible to avoid contact with people at high risk for severe complications from the flu.
Preventing the spread of the flu virus depends on all of us. Even if you think its not serious for you if you get it, it could be something you passed on to someone.
When To See A Doctor
Most cases of the flu are mild and resolve within 1-2 weeks.
However, if youre immunocompromised, pregnant, or otherwise at risk of severe complications, reach out to your provider if you start to experience any flu symptoms.
Otherwise, healthy adults should reach out to their provider if they dont feel better within two weeks or if they experience any severe symptoms of the flu, including:
- Persistent chest pain and/or pressure
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin
- Feeling severely faint or dizzy
- Vomiting or diarrhea with inability to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated
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How Long Are You Contagious After Having The Flu
Image: Kari Perrin
So you came down with the flu and you are finally feeling better, but you still have a pesky lingering cough and runny nose. Are you still contagious? Can you return to work, school and all those holiday parties you have planned without infecting others?
Infectious disease specialist and CAN Community Health medical director Dr. Tanya Schreibman answers our questions about contagiousness and how we can safely navigate the holiday season.
When do you become contagious with the flu?
“You are theoretically contagious for 24 hours before you experience symptoms,” says Schreibman. “This might be scary for some people, because they don’t know they are sick and going out and about. But it’s common to be spreading germs before you even feel sick.”
How long are you contagious for?
“It depends on the person, but the highest rate of contagious period would be three to four days while symptomatic,” says Schreibman. “From symptom onset to three to four days, you are most critically contagious. But on average, you remain contagious five to seven days after becoming sick.”
Are you still contagious if you have a lingering cough or runny nose?
According to Schreibman, that is hard to say. Any flu symptoms can last as long as one to two weeks. And, “theoretically, during that time, you could still be contagious, especially kids and those with a weakened immune system,” says Schreibman.
How is the flu spread? Is it different or similar to Covid-19?