How Long Is the Flu Contagious and How to Cure?

how long is the flu contagious

The flu is a common illness that can affect both adults and children alike. Flu is caused by a particular type of virus and it is contagious as well. The period of time that a person would take to get rid of the flu varies from one person to the other. Many people do not visit any medical facility to treat their flu but they also do not have a clear idea on how long is the flu contagious.

It is important to know how long is the flu contagious to ensure that you do end up spreading it in your known circle of people. It is best to get back to work after you get completely well from the flu. Below is detailed information on how long is the flu contagious. It will help you to know when to resume your normal lifestyle after you have been attacked by the flu.

Lasting of the symptoms

The symptoms of the flu generally stay for a maximum of ten days. However, the number of days varies from person to person. The person is capable of spreading the flu from a day before their flu starts and continues to remain contagious for seven days after he fell sick.

Flu contagious period

Flu contagious period starts from before you get down with the flu and lasts till you are completely cured. If you have the flu and wondering how long is the flu contagious, be assured that its at worst during the first 3-4 days.

There are some individuals who can affect other people from a day before they get sick from the flu and continue to do so after five to seven days of being sick. People who have weaker immune system and children are capable of remaining contagious from longer periods of time.

Flu symptoms

If you want to know how contagious is the flu then you should have an idea about the symptoms of the flu. It will help you to keep your distance from other people to make sure that they do not get contaminated by your flu virus. You need to spot these signs early and seek medical help. Some of the signs that indicate you have flu are mentioned below.


It is one of the major symbols of getting the flu. You will have a mild to high fever. Even if you do not get a fever you are sure to get the chills that fever brings along and you might also end up feeling feverish. If you see that this is lasting for a couple of days then you might be getting the flu.

Sore throat

Along with the fever, you might also face the problem of your throat getting all sore before you are attacked by the flu. You will find it hard to swallow anything and there will be a consistent pain in your throat. Do not ignore this symptom and seek medical help.


Coughing is another symptom that indicates that you might have got the flu. If you are concerned about how long is the flu contagious then you should pay attention to when you are getting your cough. If you see you are having a sore throat along with bouts of coughs then you should be rather alarmed as you might get the flu.

Make sure when you are coughing you cover your mouth to keep other people from getting affected by your flu virus.

Body aches

If you are affected by the flu then your body might be aching and your muscles will also feel sore and tight. You will get these symptoms along with the fever and you should not ignore them if you do not want your flu to go out of hand. You also remain contagious right from the beginning of this time and thus you should be more careful.


When you are at the beginning of your flu, you will feel tired all the time. If you are concerned about how long is the flu contagious then you should be alarmed right from the time you start to feel tired without any apparent reason. It means that you might be getting the flu and thus you are contagious.


Your head will hurt all the time if you are about to get the flu. You will get the headache along with the fever and you should know that you are going to be affected by the flu. It is best to take medical help to remain safe.

Stuffy noses

When you are about to get the flu you will find that either your nose is running or it is blocked. In any of the cases, you should be careful if it is companioned by the other symptoms of the flu.

Diarrhea and vomiting

These two symptoms are mostly seen in children than in adults. However, some adults may also vomit and get diarrhea when they are getting a flu attack.

Complications related to the flu

Flu happens to be quite common illness and most of the people getting attacked by it recover within a few days with proper medical help. However, in some cases, flu leads to certain complications that can prove to be fatal and cost you your life. Some of these complications related to flu are mentioned below.

Sinus and infection in the year

Some people can develop an infection in their ears if they do not treat their flu on time. Flu can also cause complications of the sinus in some individuals.


Flu often leads to pneumonia that is a result of infection of the influenza virus. Pneumonia also attacks a person because of the co-infection created by bacteria and the flu virus. It is quite a serious complication that the flu can cause.


Flu also causes Myocarditis or inflammation of the heart in some people. It is a serious condition of the heart and requires immediate medical help. Neglecting it can lead to life-threatening situations.


There can be inflammation in the brains as well because of the flu. It is caused encephalitis and it also needs proper medical care. Ignoring signs like nausea, vomiting, and seizures may lead to serious consequences. These signs might point that you are affected by encephalitis.

Muscle inflammation

Flu can cause inflammation in the muscles as well. The conditions include rhabdomyolysis and myositis.

Multiple organ failure

Flu can cause the failure of multiple organs in the body. For example, the kidney or your respiratory system might fail because of your flu if you do not give it proper medical attention. If the flu virus attacks your respiratory system then it can cause a high inflammatory reaction in the body. This, in turn, might cause sepsis that is a life-threatening response of the body to this kind of infection.

Affecting chronic illness

There are some chronic illnesses that might get worse when you get the flu. People who have asthma might face more attacks of asthma when attacked by the flu. Breathing gets difficult during the flu because of blocked noses and that might have a very adverse effect on a patient of asthma. People who have chronic heart problems might also face difficult situations as the flu affects the heart conditions is a very bad way.

How the flu spreads

If you are concerned about how long is the flu contagious then you should have a clear idea about how it spreads. Knowledge about the way it spreads will help you to prevent yourself from spreading it when you are attacked by the flu. The disease generally spreads from one person to another even if they have a distance of 6 feet between them.

It has been proved that the viruses of flu are spread by the droplets that are created by the coughing, talking or sneezing of the flu affected person. These droplets often go into the noses or mouths of people who are standing near the affected person and then affect their lunges. Another way that this virus gets spread is by touching a surface that has already flu virus on it and then using the same hand on your nose or mouth or even on your eyes.

How long is a virus contagious?

When you are dealing with the flu you need to know how long is a virus contagious. A virus causes both the flu and the cold and though there are certain things common in between the cold and the flu there are a lot of differences as well.


The early symptoms of the flu and the cold appear quite the same and it gets difficult to understand what has affected you. However, the symptoms of cold are generally milder than those of the flu. With a cold, you will have low fever and moderate coughing and blocked nose. If it is common cold then you will not require serious medical care and a lot of fluids and rest will make you okay.

However, if you are affected by the flu virus then your symptoms will go worse and you will feel pain in your body and muscles. If you see these symptoms are persisting then you should seek immediate medical help.

Contagious period

Once you start to feel better you think that you are not contagious anymore. However, it is not true. Be it the flu or the cold you do not stop being contagious the moment you get well. The different periods of being contagious on being attacked by the different viruses are mentioned below.

In case of the flu:

When you have the flu, you start getting contagious right before the day you fall sick and you will continue to be contagious after five to seven days of the symptoms getting visible. People who have weaker immune systems and children can contaminate people for even longer periods of time.

In case of cold:

When you are attacked by the cold virus you will get contagious one or two days before your symptoms start. The period of being contagious remains almost two weeks after getting affected. When affected by cold, even if your symptoms seem mild in nature then it does not mean that you are any less contagious. It simply means that your immunity is system is fighting well with the viruses. It has nothing to do with you being contagious.

Ways to stop spreading the flu

The best way to make sure that you do not infection people around is by keeping away from too much interaction. You should not go to work or social gatherings right from the beginning of your symptoms. Some other ways to stop spreading the flu virus are mentioned below.

Washing hands:

You should wash your hands frequently and clearly when you have the flu as you might cough or sneeze in them. You should make sure that you are washing off the virus.

Keep the touched area clean:

You should also disinfect the areas you frequently touch while being under the attack of the flu. It would ensure lesser contamination among people who will touch the same surface.

Cover your mouth while coughing:

When you have the flu you should never cough or sneeze without covering your mouth and nose. You need to use a tissue or at least your hands that you wash right away. It would make sure that the viruses do not spread in the air and affect other people.

These are the basic things you need to know about the flu and its contagious period. Make sure to notice the symptoms once they start so that you do not spread it. You should also seek medical help if you see that the symptoms are persisting and somewhat getting worse. Flu can lead to a number of complicated health problems. Thus, it is always better to consult a doctor. You should avoid going to work and if it is extremely necessary to opt for working from home. The more you will meet people the more you will affect them. It is, therefore, better to keep your distance from people when you have the flu.

Frequently Ask Questions

Q: How long is the flu contagious?

A: The flu is generally contagious from one day before symptoms appear to about five to seven days after becoming sick. In some cases, especially in young children and individuals with weakened immune systems, the contagious period can last longer.

Q: Can the flu be contagious before symptoms appear?

A: Yes, the flu can be contagious before symptoms appear. People infected with the flu can spread the virus to others from about one day before they start experiencing symptoms. This makes it possible for someone to transmit the flu virus even before they realize they are sick.

Q: How long should I stay home from work or school if I have the flu?

A: It is recommended to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications. This is usually around 3-5 days after the onset of flu symptoms. However, it is advisable to check with your healthcare provider or follow the guidelines provided by your local health department for specific recommendations.

Q: Can I spread the flu if I no longer have symptoms?

A: It is possible to spread the flu virus even after your symptoms have resolved. Generally, adults with the flu are contagious from one day before symptoms appear to about five to seven days after becoming sick. However, in some cases, children and individuals with weakened immune systems may continue to shed the virus and be contagious for longer periods.

Q: How can I prevent spreading the flu to others?

A: To prevent spreading the flu, it is important to practice good respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if soap is not available. Avoid close contact with others, especially in crowded places, and stay home until you have fully recovered.

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