How Long Is It Contagious
If you have the flu, youre contagious from at least a day before you begin to experience symptoms up through five days after your symptoms begin.
In more severe cases, you could be contagious for even longer after you begin experiencing symptoms. This number can fluctuate if your immune system is weak or undeveloped, specifically in cases of children or older adults.
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.
What Stops The Flu From Spreading
There are multiple ways to avoid getting and spreading the flu. Here are some of the best ways:
- Washing your hands often: This will help protect you from any germs that could make their way into your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you cannot wash your hands with soapy water, then hand sanitizer is the next best thing.
- Avoiding close contact with sick people: Trying your best to stay away from sick people will help keep you from catching the flu. If youre sick with the flu, limiting your contact with other people will keep you from spreading the flu.
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing: When youre sick with the flu and cough or sneeze, tiny droplets containing the flu virus can travel through the air and infect other people. Covering your mouth and nose is a great way to help stop this.
- Wearing a face mask: The protection you get from face masks isnt exclusive to coronavirus. A face mask can protect you from the common cold and flu too.
- Staying up to date on vaccinations: Getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the flu. Flu vaccines have been proven to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and flu-related deaths.
Recommended Reading: Best Price For Flu Shot Without Insurance
What Else Can Help
To make spreading the flu less likely, everyone in your family should::
- Wash hands well and often with soap, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating or preparing food
- Never pick up used tissues.
- Never share cups and eating utensils.
- Stay home from work or school if they have the flu.
- Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, then put it in the trash.
- Cough or sneeze into their upper arm, not their hands, if a tissue isn’t handy.
Is The Flu Vaccine Safe For Kids With Allergies
Even though the flu vaccine contains egg protein, most children with egg and other food allergies can be immunized safely with a few basic precautions.
Children with established diagnoses of severe egg allergy should not be immunized without consulting a pediatric allergist. Most, however, can be vaccinated safely after a skin-prick test to the vaccine itself to gauge the risk for a reaction. Children with suspected yet unconfirmed allergies and those with mild egg allergies can usually be vaccinated in their pediatricians office.
An estimated 2 percent to 3 percent of U.S. children are allergic to eggs. Leaving them unprotected against the flu can lead to many unnecessary yet preventable infections and hospitalizations. Many children with food allergies also have asthma, putting them at even higher risk for complications from the flu. Pediatricians should make special efforts to vaccinate those at high risk for complications, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics .
Recommended Reading: Can You Get A Uti From The Flu Shot
How Long Is The Incubation Period Of The Flu
There’s no exact time frame that’s the same for every person with the flu but, in general, the CDC says that the incubation period of the flu can range between one and four days, with the average length of time being two days.
People with the flu are the most contagious the first three to four days after they were infected, per the CDC, which can coincide with the incubation period. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others starting the day before they show symptoms, and continue to be infectious up to seven days after they become sick, the CDC adds.
“People have the flu and are out and about doing their regular stuff, coming into contact with others before they get sick,” Dr. Boling says. “You can infect plenty of people during that time.”
Flu Versus The Common Cold
If you have flu-like symptoms but no fever, you might suspect that you have a cold. It is not always easy to tell the difference, and even a cold can cause you to have a mild fever.
In general, all symptoms are worse when you have the flu. You are also more likely to have congestion, a runny nose, a cough, a sore throat, or sneezing with the flu. Exhaustion is also common with the flu. This tiredness is not nearly as extreme when you have a cold.
Read Also: What Is The Best Medication For Cold And Flu
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
Can The Flu Be Prevented
There’s no guaranteed way to avoid the flu. But getting the flu vaccine every year can help. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get it each year.
Most doctor’s offices, clinics, and drugstores offer the flu vaccine from September to mid-November. It’s best to get it before the end of October. But even if you don’t get it at the start of the flu season, it’s not too late to get one while the flu is still going around.
If your child is sick, has a fever, or is wheezing, talk to your doctor to see if you need to reschedule the flu vaccine.
Recommended Reading: Flu Shot With A Cold
How To Know If Youre Contagious With A Cold Or Flu And When To Return To Work
Its an all-too-common sight during cold and flu season: sniffly, miserable people dragging themselves in to the office when they should be recovering at home. But how do you know when youre no longer a contagious hazard to your coworkers? Read on to find out why your runny nose may mean that you should stay quarantined.
How Long Am I Contagious After Starting Antibiotics
If you are sick with a bacterial infection, then your health care provider may prescribe you antibiotics, said Pittman. The likelihood of spreading infection severely decreases 24 hours after you begin antibiotics. Some common bacterial infections are conjunctivitis or pink eye, strep throat and meningitis.
Viral infections like colds and upper respiratory infections usually need to run its course. Depending on your health care providers suggestions, you may take medications to temporarily ease symptoms but your provider will not suggest antibiotics.
Because it can be hard to tell which illness is viral and bacterial, Pittman suggests calling your health care provider for guidance if your symptoms do not start to improve after two to three days. The long length of symptoms can be a sign you have a bacterial infection, which will need antibiotics.
You should always seek a healthcare professional if you or your child has symptoms that are severe or unusual, such as shortness of breath or a high temperature, especially in children under six months of age, said Pittman.
Don’t Miss: Flu Symptoms For Over A Week
Watch For The Symptoms
Even if you try your best to stay healthy when someone in the house has the flu, there’s still a chance that you’ll become infected. The flu causes symptoms that range from mild to severe, and if you live with certain medical conditions such as heart disease, getting the flu can increase your risk of complications.
Most people recover from the flu within a couple of weeks. It’s important to recognize early signs of the flu so you can take steps to getting healthy as soon as possible. If you feel yourself becoming sick, look for these symptoms:
- Fever. However, not everyone who has the flu develops a fever.
- Sore throat.
Any Time Your Child Is Sick
If your child is sick, it’s best for them to stay home until they feel well again. If they have a fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or any kind of pain, aren’t hungry, or seem extra tired or clingy, they should stay home.
How do you know when to keep your child home from school? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you answer a few key questions:
Check with your child’s day care or school before you send them back to their regular schedules. Many places have rules about how long kids need to stay home. Usually it’s at least a full day after they don’t have any fever without medication.
Hereâs what you need to keep an eye on:
Fever is a sign that your body is fighting the germs that are making you sick. Itâs a common symptom of infections like flu. If itâs 101 F or higher, wait until your child is fever-free for at least 24 hours before sending them back to school.
Pinkeye is contagious, and a child should stay home for the first 24 hours after treatment begins. Symptoms include eye redness, irritation, swelling, and pus.
Also Check: Does Cvs Accept United Healthcare For Flu Shots
You Could Give Someone The Flu For Days Before You Get Sick And Weeks Afterward
You wake up feeling crummy. Your throat is sore. You have no energy and no appetite. You strongly suspect that you’re coming down with a cold or maybe the flu. But. There’s an important meeting at work and you’re the one who’s supposed to lead the meeting. Or maybe there’s a ton of work to do and if you don’t go in, you’ll be dumping all of it on your team members. And so you bundle up, stuff some tissues in your pocket and drag yourself to the office.
I know this sounds familiar because we’ve all done it, including me. And a zillion cold remedy commercials have encouraged us to take a pill that will take care of our symptoms so we can ignore the cold and go right back to our desks. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Not only are you making yourself less productive by working instead of resting when you’re sick, you can kill the productivity of the entire office if others catch your illness too. In fact, even if you’re just a little bit unwell, or were sick but are now feeling almost completely better, you can still spread contagion throughout your workplace.
Here are the best things you can do to make sure a cold or flu doesn’t wipe out your whole office this flu season. If you’re the boss, try to get everyone to follow these rules.
A Fever Stays Home No Exceptions
If you have a fever, you are highly contagious and highly unlikely to do any useful work. Stay home, no matter what. If you’re the boss and an employee seems like he or she has a fever, send that employee home. Incidentally, there’s been some debate lately about what actually constitutes a “fever” since not everyone has a body temperature that adheres exactly to 98.6 degrees. The CDC defines a fever is a temperature that’s higher than normal for you.
Feel free to take aspirin, ibuprofen or other fever-reducing medicine, but that doesn’t mean you can head back to the office. A fever that’s being “masked” by medication still counts as a fever.
Also Check: What Medication Is Good For Flu
How Does The Flu Virus Spread
The flu spreads through a process known as viral shedding. A virus replicates inside a cell, and the viruses mix with mucus and saliva and find their way outside through droplets that escape when you cough or sneeze.
Droplets with the virus can stay suspended in the air and infect anyone nearby who inhales them. The virus can also be spread when an infected person touches their face and then touches surfaces like doorknobs and desktops. The objects that allow the settling of the virus and help in its transmission are known as fomites. When a healthy person touches these fomites and then their face with the same hand, the virus can enter their respiratory system and cause flu.
A Local Infectious Disease Specialist Answers Our Many Questions About 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?
You May Like: Kaiser Permanente Flu Shot 2021 Southern California
What Problems Can Happen
Some children are more likely to have problems when they get the flu, including:
- kids up to age 5, especially babies
- people with a weak immune system from medicines or illnesses or illnesses
- people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes
- kids or teens who take aspirin regularly
- people who are very obese
- women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, just had a baby, or are breastfeeding
- people who live in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
- people 65 years and older
If they get the flu, their illness can be more serious. They can develop pneumonia or get even sicker from other kinds of infections . If this happens, many will need medical care in the hospital. So it’s important for them not to be near anyone who has the flu or flu-like symptoms.
People who have flu symptoms should keep their distance from anyone who might get very sick if they catch the flu.
How Long Can I Spread The Flu For
The flu is contagious from the day before symptoms start to five to seven days after becoming sick. The incubation period of the flu, or how long it can take to develop symptoms after exposure and infection, is about one to four days. One reason the flu spreads so quickly is that someone can be contagious and not show signs of being sick until a few days after catching the flu virus.
The contagious periods of the flu, common cold, and stomach bug are very similar. With the common cold, you can become contagious one to two days before symptoms start, and you can remain contagious for up to two weeks. The same is true for the stomach bug, and you wont stop being contagious for several days after youve completely recovered. As far as the coronavirus is concerned, Harvard Health reports that COVID-19 can be contagious 48 to 72 hours before the first onset of symptoms. The contagious period ends about 10 days after symptoms resolve. Some infectious disease experts still recommend 14 days of isolation.
You May Like: Side Effects Of Flu Shot In Elderly