Protecting Yourself And Others
Most people know they should stay home when they are sick with something like the flu . However, it’s pretty difficult to avoid passing the virus if you don’t even know you have it yet.
This is one of the reasons flu vaccines are so important. If you are vaccinated against the flu, your body will have a chance to fight it off before it spreads in your body and you are less likely to pass it on to other people or get sick yourself.
If you do get sick, stay home.
Know when to call in sick to work, wash your hands frequently, and make sure those that come into contact with you do the same. Cover your cough and do everything you can to avoid being around people that are at high risk for serious complications from the flu.
Preventing the spread of the flu virus is up to all of us. Even if you think it won’t be serious for you if you get it, it might be for someone you pass it to.
How Long Am I Contagious After The Flu After I Take Tamiflu
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people with the flu to stay home until 24 hours after they are fever free without the use of a fever-reducing medication. Depending on your place of work, you may need to check company policy, Pittman said. For example, many health care settings require their employees to stay home seven days after the onset of symptoms.
Pittman notes individuals with the flu can be contagious for up to three weeks after the onset of symptoms. In many cases, just because you or your children are fever free and can return to work or school does not mean you are no longer contagious. Proper handwashing goes a long way to prevent the spread of germs.
The same rules apply even if you have taken a flu antiviral drug like Tamiflu. Stay home until you are fever free for 24 hours without the help of a fever-reducing medication.
General Rules Of Thumb
If you have a young child in your household, pay attention to any changes in behavior, said Pittman. Behavioral changes are often the very first signs your child is coming down with something.
If you are still unsure how long you should stay home or keep your children home, then ask your primary care provider. They are available to answer any questions and give you the support and resources you need to help you and your family get better.
Recommended Reading: Shoulder Pain After Flu Shot Treatment
How Is The Flu Diagnosed
Often, how a child looks is enough for health care providers to diagnose the flu. Kids who have it usually look ill and miserable.
Other infections can cause symptoms similar to the flu. So if health care providers need to be sure that someone has influenza, they might do a test. They’ll take a sample of mucus by wiping a long cotton swab inside the nose or throat. Results might be ready quickly, or can take longer if the test is sent to a lab.
Am I Contagious When To Stay Home Sick
Your heads stuffed up. Or maybe its your throat this time and your body aches like you were run over by a truck. What do you have? It could be this years flu, or a cold you picked up from the kids. It could be your seasonal allergies celebrating the rites of spring . You can learn to tell the difference between these by monitoring your symptoms. But once you learn whats got you down, how do you know if youre contagious?
Don’t Miss: Is There Medicine To Treat The Flu
When Does A Cold Stop Being Contagious
Dealing with a cold is never easy, as the symptoms can cause some serious discomfort. Your head may feel stuffed up and your throat will be extremely sore. It is also common to have severe body aches. Your body needs to time to heal itself, so you need to take rest. However, you may also want to consider staying at home because you should protect your coworkers who would never want to share your germs. Fever, sneezing, and a cough usually indicate that you are contagious, but sometimes, you are still contagious when you no longer have these symptoms.
How Are Colds And Flu Spread
Colds and flu are most commonly spread through sneezing, coughing and touching contaminated surfaces.
- Air: Cold and flu viruses can travel up to six feet in airborne water droplets from a persons breath when they talk, sneeze or cough. If you inhale one of these water droplets or it lands in your mouth, nose or eyes, you may become infected. Cold and flu viruses tend to spread more easily in cold, dry air.3
- Touch: Surprisingly, viruses can survive for some time on surfaces, especially on hard, smooth surfaces such as metal and plastic.4 Recent research suggests the flu virus can survive for up to nine hours on hard surfaces and up to four hours on porous items such as clothes or soft toys.5 If you touch an infected surface such as a door handle, light switch, computer keyboard, cup or glassware, clothing or tissues a cold or flu virus can pass into your body if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth afterwards.2
- Close or Direct Contact: Kissing, hugging or shaking hands can pass the virus directly from one person to another.1
Read Also: Is The Flu Shot Good For A Year
When You Are Contagious
Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by several different viruses. Norovirus is one of the most common. Rotavirus is another common cause that can be very serious for young children. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for rotavirus now so it is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be.
Both of these viruses and others that cause “stomach flu” symptoms are highly contagious:
- Norovirus: Symptoms appear one to three days after exposure to the virus and you are contagious as soon as your symptoms start. General recommendations are that you can return to daily activities once you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, but you are actually still contagious for three days after you recover and could spread the virus for up to 2 weeks.
- Rotavirus: You are actually contagious before symptoms even appear and for two weeks after you recover. Typically symptoms start one to two days after exposure.
With both of these viruses, children are often contagious and spread the illness for longer than adults.
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.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get A Flu Shot While Sick
When Are You Contagious
Another factor that contributes to how the flu spreads is when exactly you may be contagious. Unlike many common illnesses that are only contagious when you’re experiencing symptoms, the flu can be contagious 24 hours before your symptoms appear, so you’re likely out there spreading the virus before you ever know that you have it. Add that to the number of people who try to push through their symptoms and expose others to their germs when they are sick, and it’s easy to see why the flu affects so many people each year.
After symptoms start, adults can spread the virus for five to 10 days. However, the amount of virus spread decreases significantly after three to five days. Adults are most contagious with the flu from 24 hours before symptoms start to three to five days afterward.
Children can spread the virus for longerup to 10 days, and sometimes even beyond that. People who have serious immune system problems can spread influenza for weeks, or even months, after they get it.
Flu symptoms generally don’t come on gradually. More often, people describe the onset of the flu as if they were “hit by a truck.” You feel fine, and then suddenly, an hour later, you feel like you can hardly move. The flu is definitely not just a bad coldit is something else entirely.
How Colds And Flu Spread
Colds are most contagious in the first 2 to 4 days after symptoms start. But they can spread up to a few weeks after that. Your symptoms will usually show up 2 to 3 days after you’ve been infected, so you may not know you’re sick when you first get the virus.
You can give other people your cold just by being around them. Your sneezes and coughs can send virus particles as far as 12 feet through the air where they can land in someone’s mouth or nose or be inhaled into the lungs. Others can also catch your cold if they touch you or something you’ve come into contact with and then touch their mouth or nose.
Like the common cold, the flu is caused by a virus, and it’s likely to spread through coughs, sneezes, or even talking. Those actions can send droplets up to 6 feet away. It’s also possible to get the flu by touching something with the virus on it and then touching your mouth or nose, but that’s less likely.
You can be contagious before you even know you’re sick. The virus usually enters your body 1 to 4 days before you have any symptoms, and you can give it to someone a day before you feel anything up to 5 to 7 days after. And kids are contagious even longer. They can spread the virus for another week.
Some people never show symptoms but can still give it to others.
How To Treat The Flu
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.
How Can I Protect Myself And Others During Flu Season
The best protection is to get the flu shot every year.
The flu shot protects you from getting the flu. It can also protect you from severe illness, hospitalization, and death if you get the flu.
You can also protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from the flu by:
Wearing a mask in areas with high flu spread
Cleaning your hands regularly using soap or alcohol-based sanitizer
Not touching your face, especially when out in public
Avoiding close contact with others who are sick
Staying home if you have flu symptoms
Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
Recommended Reading: Tylenol Cold And Flu Medication
What Are The Symptoms Of The Flu In A Child
The flu is a respiratory disease, but it can affect the whole body. A child can become suddenly ill with any or all of these symptoms:
Fever, which may be as high as 103°F to 105°F
Body aches, which may be severe
|Extreme tiredness that can last weeks|
|Sore throat||Sore throat in some cases|
A cold is usually mild and often goes away after a few days. The flu can cause severe symptoms and lead to problems such as pneumonia and even death. The symptoms of the flu can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
When Is Cold Season
Colds tend to be more common in the fall and winter because thats when people are indoors. The virus comes out in the droplets of sneezes and coughs. Those droplets land on a door knob or other public surface, and if you touch the surface and then touch your own eyes or nose, you can catch the cold too.
Recommended Reading: Children’s Flu Medicine Otc
Learn Strategies For Staying Healthy
One of the best ways to avoid becoming sick with the flu is by staying away from people who are ill. But if someone in the house has the flu, it’s not possible to avoid all contact with them. To stay healthy, follow these simple tips for preventing the spread of the flu virus:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after an interaction with the sick person. Use soap and water if these are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub to cleanse your hands.
- Disinfect surfaces or objects that may harbor the flu virus. Use paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels you can launder easily.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes because the virus can enter your body in these locations.
- Keep your personal items separate from those of the person who’s sick. This includes clothing, eating utensils, and toothbrushes.
- Wash your towels and clothing with hot water. Hot water helps kill the flu virus.
- Wear disposable gloves if you’re cleaning up body fluids or contaminated items, such as tissues. Also, wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you’re finished with chores like this.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough by tucking your face into your elbow or sleeve. Try to avoid sneezing or coughing into your hands.
How Long Do Cold And Flu Symptoms Last
When suffering from cold and flu symptoms, how long youll feel unwell will vary from person to person. As a general rule, most people recover from the common cold within seven to ten days, while flu symptoms may last five to seven days.8 Although both cold and flu symptoms are incredibly similar, in general the flu is worse than the common cold and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually more mild than the flu and dont often result in serious health problems that lead to hospitalizations.10 Because flu symptoms can be more intense, flu vaccinations are strongly recommended in order to protect yourself and others from the flu. If you catch the flu while vaccinated, flu shots can minimize the effects of the flu. For people who have received the annual flu shot, the symptoms may last for a shorter amount of time or be less severe.8
Recommended Reading: Where To Get Flu Shot Kaiser
How Long Am I Contagious
How long should I stay home after being sick? Often, this question comes with an internal back and forth about whether youor your childrenshould stay home or not. Whether a child or an adult, Alison Pittman, PhD, RN, CPN, CNE, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A& M College of Nursing, gives some basic guidelines on how to tell if you should stay home with a short-term, possibly contagious illness.
Most People With Covid
If youre exposed to COVID-19 your first impulse may be to get tested immediately. But getting tested too soon in the incubation period may lead to a false-positive result and, even worse, a false sense of security.
An infections incubation period is the length of time between when you first become infected and when you begin to experience symptoms. For COVID-19, that timeline stretches anywhere from the first day after your exposure through the 14 days that follow. And you can be contagious at any point even if you dont have any symptoms.
We know it can be confusing to keep track of the all the different guidelines and recommendations. Heres a timeline of COVID-19s incubation period with answers to some of your most pressing questions. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed its important to check in with your doctor who can monitor your symptoms and determine treatment and give guidance on quarantine and testing.
Don’t Miss: Can You Test For The Flu
Yes The Flu Is Contagious
The flu is caused by a virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are four types of influenza virus: A, B, C, and D. And all four types are contagious.
Type D only really affects cattle, and type C causes only mild infections. So types A and B are the ones you need to worry about. Of those two types, there are dozens of different subtypes of type A and a couple of different strains of influenza B.
These different types don’t all circulate at the same time. But they’re all contagious, and they all spread the same way: through droplets dispersed by sneezing, coughing, or even talking. In fact, those droplets can spread through the air as far as six feet away.
So, if you’re trying to avoid getting the flu, it’s best to avoid human contact with others may have it.