Is The Flu Contagious
The flu is very contagious. People can spread it from a day before they feel sick until their symptoms are gone. This is about 1 week for adults, but it can be longer for young kids.
The flu usually happens in annual epidemics. An epidemic is when an illness spreads quickly and infects lots of people in an area at the same time. Some years the epidemic is more severe and widespread than others. An epidemic that spreads worldwide is called a pandemic. This is far less common. There were three influenza pandemics in the 20th century, and one so far in the 21st century, in 2009 with influenza A .
During the coronavirus pandemic, experts found that wearing masks can help protect the community from the spread of germs. They recommended that all children age 2 and up wear a mask when out in public or around people who don’t live with them. Wearing masks can also help stop the spread of flu.
Should You Wear A Face Mask If You Have A Cold This Winter
Wearing a face mask has become common practice for many of us throughout the pandemic. Wearing face coverings in indoor spaces has helped reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they are now worn less as vaccines have been rolled out and masks are no longer a legal requirement. But as winter approaches and people start to catch colds, could keeping our masks on help us stay well?
Reviewed byDr Sarah Jarvis MBE
23-Nov-21·5 mins read
A YouGov poll found between 15 July-22 September 2021 there was a drop from 72% to 60% in the number of people in the UK who said they were wearing a face mask when in public places. Are we wrong to give up on face coverings?
What Should I Do If I Get Sick
Most people with flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.
If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a higher-risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider .
Certain people are at increased risk of serious flu-related complications . For a full list of people at increased risk of flu-related complications, see People at Higher Risk of Developing FluRelated Complications. If you are in a higher-risk group and develop flu symptoms, its best for you to contact your doctor early in your illness. Remind them about your higher-risk status for flu. CDC recommends that people at higher risk for complications should get antiviral treatment as early as possible, because benefit is greatest if treatment is started within 2 days after illness onset.
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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 .
The Real Benefits To Wearing A Mask
For most people looking to stay protected during flu season, wearing a mask may be just what the doctor ordered. Most mask talk, and most of the above, concerns filtering disease particles directly, but what about the other benefits of the mask?
One major benefit of wearing a mask, even just a surgical style facemask, is that it forms a physical barrier between your face and your hands. A huge vector of disease transmission is hand to face. You touch a contaminated surface, and later touch your nose or mouth, and the disease lingers in the mucous membranes, where it can slowly infect your body. By placing a physical barrier in the way, youre at the least reminded to wash your hands before touching your face.
Another benefit is in filtering other airborne contaminants. Air pollution, pollen, allergens, and other particulate in the air can aggravate your respiratory system, putting stress on the body and making it more difficult to resist diseases.
On top of that, you have the moisture retention capability of a mask. Dry air is another risk factor for disease, which is why autumn is flu season the air is getting colder and dryer, and its opening vectors for disease in your body. Some masks retain some of the moisture of your breath and prevents your mouth, nose and throat from drying out.
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Should I Wear A Face Mask During The Flu Season
Face masks are often limited in our culture to a handful of uses. Workers in hazardous conditions, those working with particulate matter, and the stereotypical image of a suited up CDC worker fighting infectious diseases are very nearly it. Masks are used regularly by doctors and dentists, for both patient and physician benefit. Some people choose to wear masks during cold and flu season, in the hope of them preventing airborne illnesses, but it begs the question: do they really work? Should you pick up the habit, or is it all nothing more than a bit of psychosomatic peace of mind?
Should I Wear A Mask During Flu Season
Masks play an important role in reducing the transmission of respiratory diseasesnot just COVID-19 but influenza as well. The hundreds of Americans who died of seasonal flu in 20202021 is only a fraction of the more than 34,000 who died of flu from 20182019, but the difference cant be attributed to just one thing.
Mask-wearing to protect against seasonal flu should work together with other measures, including vaccination, hand-washing, social-distancing and quarantining when you feel sick, says Ali Jaffry, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Palisades Medical Center.
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Will Wearing A Mask Stop Me From Getting The Flu
Queensland University of Technology professor of public health and disaster management Gerry FitzGerald said masks can certainly offer some protection in reducing the spread of influenza, but are more effective if you’re already infected.
“The masks that are generally available don’t provide a lot of protection to the individual due to their lightweight material,” he said.
“They do help protect people who have influenza or if they don’t know they’ve got it.
“When you breathe out, the majority of viral particles that you breathe out are larger.
“, that reduces the likelihood of them spreading it to non-infected people.”
The flu is spread easily, mainly through sneezing and coughing.
Professor FitzGerald said masks’ effectiveness also depends on what kind you wear and how you wear it.
More on that soon.
What Is The Recommended Type Of Flu Mask
What you may not know about face masks is that not all of them are created equal. The different types of masks offer different levels of protection. Before you purchase one, know this: neck gaiters are like wearing no mask at all. They actually do the opposite and spread the coronavirus, as well as any type of surgical . You should avoid purchasing masks off of Amazon, too. Oftentimes, Amazon products end up improperly stored and sourced. These masks end up tainted which makes them not effective. Bootleg masks wont ever have the words surgical mask or medical ratings printed on their packaging. A lack of either should serve as a red flag. No medical coding means these masks have not been tested by the FDA.
This isnt some marketing ploy, either. Surgical and N95 masks were designed for medical professionals and workers who are in contact with hazardous materials. This is why the FDA rigorously tests and regulates masks. In turn, these types of masks also offer superior protection from germs when compared to non-surgical face masks and cloth masks.
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When Are Face Masks Effective
Masks help with infection control and reduce cold and influenza virus transmission. Masks do add a layer of protection, which has been confirmed in the research regarding flu transmission specifically, Dr. Mavunda says. The reason is that the way the cold and flu spreads can be blocked by the usage of a mask. Masks are especially effective if:
How Does A Face Covering Help
There is new evidence that supports cloth face coverings help prevent people who are already ill from spreading their germs to others. In the instance of COVID-19, if you have the virus and are asymptomatic, the mask can help stop the spread, and if you do not have the virus and are healthy, your mask can prevent you from catching the virus from someone else.
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Should We Still Wear Masks If We Have A Cold This Winter
Wearing a mask when you have a cold yourself means you are looking out for others and limiting the spread beyond your household. Doing this particularly benefits people who are in vulnerable categories or have weakened immune systems, and who might be more affected than some with a common cold.
“Colds are caused by a number of common viruses which, like COVID-19, tend to spread through respiratory particles produced when an infected person breathes, speaks or coughs. Masks are likely to be effective against these airborne illnesses too, reducing your chance of passing on a virus.”
A single cough can actually produce up to 3,000 droplets. We spray thousands of droplets invisible to the naked eye into the air just by speaking. There have been fears throughout the pandemic that simply having a conversation with someone can cause particles to spread.
Dr Micklewright adds, “Critically though, it can be very difficult, even for doctors, to tell the difference between COVID-19, flu and the common cold. So if you think you have a cold, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Wear a mask and, if you have a cough, fever or a loss of smell or taste, stay at home and book a COVID-19 PCR test.”
Read More On The Coronavirus Pandemic
- Boosters: Britain became the first country to authorize a coronavirus vaccine that targets two variants. Half of each dose of the Moderna-made shot will target the original variant, and the other half will target Omicron.
- New Guidelines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its Covid-19 guidance, saying those exposed to the virus no longer need to quarantine. A day later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended that people exposed to Covid who are asymptomatic take at least three at-home antigen tests, each spaced 48 hours apart, to reduce the risk of missing an infection.
- Parents and Pandemic Politics: They were once Democrats and Republicans. But fears for their children fueled by vaccine skepticism have turned them into single-issue voters, on the side of no vaccine mandates for their children.
- Coronavirus Origins: Two new studies exploring how the Covid outbreak began, concluded that the wet market in Wuhan, China, was the likely epicenter of its emergence.
Dr. Leung said the strongest evidence for a connection came from studies that had demonstrated how surgical masks reduced the amount of influenza virus that an infected person emitted, an effect that epidemiologists call source control. These studies showed that masking was particularly effective at stopping emission of influenza droplets, she added.
Measuring the impact of wearing surgical masks on community transmission of influenza has been more complicated, she said.
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What About When My Child Goes To School
Public health experts agree that school mask mandates should not last forever, but they differ on whether the time has come to remove them. For parents, changing rules can be confusing.
Here are a few things to consider in making the choice for your own family.
Children almost never suffer severe symptoms, whether or not theyre vaccinated. Many students have gone to school without masks during the pandemic in Britain, other parts of Europe and many American states, for example and very few children have gotten seriously sick.
The risk to children has always been lower than it is to adults, said Dr. David Rubin, a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The jury is also still out on whether masks impede social development. But several studies do suggest that a mask makes communication difficult, inhibiting childrens ability to recognize one another or each others emotions.
Children and their schools have had to shoulder a collective burden, largely to protect the adults in their lives, said Dr. Rubin, who is also the director of PolicyLab at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.
And as much of the world opens up, consider all the ways children hang out with each other. Masks may stop transmission in the classroom itself, but children interact outside of school hours.
Pneumonia : Prevention Precautionand Should You Wear A Mask Too
Social media threads are on heightened alert due to reports of people getting afflicted withand dying ofpneumonia. While the Department of Health is quick to dispel rumors that there is an outbreak of the inflammatory infection in the Philippines, many are still alarmed, as more are being admitted to hospitals because of it.
We consulted Dr. Bernadette Trinidad Seludo, an Adult Infectious Disease Specialist, at the Victor R. Potenciano Medical Center, to answer our most pressing questions about this recent health scare:
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Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick
Influenza can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*Its important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How Does The Flu Compare To Covid
Like COVID-19, the flu spreads from person to person, and people with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. The flu is thought to also spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. The respiratory droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of others nearby, spreading the infection.
From the data available now, we know coronavirus is also transmitted mainly from person to person when those people are within 6 feet of each other, and primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.And although COVID-19 and the flu are spread in similar ways, COVID-19 has been observed to have more superspreading events than the flu, says the CDC. That means COVID-19 can spread faster and more easily to a lot of people.
A major difference between coronavirus and the flu is that a person with coronavirus takes anywhere from two to 14 days to show symptoms after being infected, while the flu usually takes roughly one to four days after infection. For both COVID-19 and the flu, however, its possible to spread the virus for at least one day before experiencing any symptoms.
For additional information on the similarities and differences between COVID-19 and the flu, read more from the CDC.
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Unvaccinated Asymptomatic Persons Including Those At High Risk For Influenza Complications
No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses. If unvaccinated high-risk persons decide to wear masks during periods of increased respiratory illness activity in the community, it is likely they will need to wear them any time they are in a public place and when they are around other household members.
Annual influenza vaccination is the primary method for preventing influenza in persons at high risk for complications from influenza virus infection. However, influenza vaccine effectiveness is variable, and some vaccinated persons can get sick with influenza. Administration of antiviral medications for early treatment of influenza is a useful adjunct in the control of influenza in these persons. Antiviral treatment is recommended as soon as possible for hospitalized influenza patients, people who are very sick with influenza but who do not need to be hospitalized, and people who are at high risk of serious complications based on their age or health if they develop influenza.
Youre Returning To School Or Work
Doctors have seen less cases of seasonal influenza and the common cold during the pandemic. During this pandemic, masking, adequate hand hygiene, and social distancing used for prevention of COVID-19 transmission led to significant decline in infections with other respiratory viruses such as influenza, parainfluenza, and RSV in all age groups, from infants to the elderly, and this in turn led to less exacerbation of chronic diseases such as asthma and COPD, Dr. Mavunda says. One upside of the pandemic is a break from the season of sickness, which is a relief to everyone, especially people who are at high risk when it comes to respiratory infections. Unfortunately, returning to work or school is causing a resurgence of cold and influenza transmission.
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