Influenza, widely known as flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by viruses that infect the lungs, throat and nose. It is characterized with mild to severe fever. Symptoms like sore throat, headaches, cough, stuffy or runny nose, body aches and feverishness are often experienced with flu. Flu can undoubtedly be a harsh and frustrating health condition but the relieving factor is that most people suffering from flu feel much better within a week or 2 from the onset of the illness.
Flu, in most healthy adults, becomes contagious from a day prior to the development of any symptoms. This makes it even more challenging to prevent and restrict the spread of the flu virus. Children and those with weakened immunity can spread the disease for a longer period than usual.
How Long is Flu Contagious?
Doctors ask the ones suffering from flu to stay at home in order to prevent other people from falling sick. But for how long does the individual need to keep them self shut from the world? For how long is flu contagious? Flu is contagious from a day before any of its symptoms appear on the patient and remains so for about 5 to 7 days after one starts feeling sick.
Fever is a sure sign that the flu is still contagious. Flu patients having fever are advised to stay indoors for at least 24 hours after their temperature goes down naturally, without the help of any medication. Children can potentially spread the virus for an even longer duration, i.e. until their symptoms fade away.
How Does Flu Spread?
Flu is mainly spread through air. Individuals suffering from flu or other respiratory infections cough or sneeze out beads of moisture that carry the flu virus. These germ filled particles are released in to the air and can travel as far as 6 feet making anyone near the infected person a potential target. As one breathes in or inhales these droplets, they become exposed to the flu virus.
When a flu infected person touches their eyes, nose or mouth and then touches other surfaces with their germy fingers, they tend to spread the flu virus easily. Flu germs can sustain themselves on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours. Thus, when a person touches their face after touching places like doorknobs, countertops, phones and desks, where these moisture droplets land, they can get infected,
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 doctor's 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.