How Long is The Flu Contagious For?

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The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by certain influenza viruses. It can spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. Knowing how long the flu virus is contagious and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones is critical to preventing infection.

What is the Flu?

The flu, also known as influenza, is a viral infection characterized by fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, and other general symptoms. First, you will want to distinguish between cold vs flu symptoms or even have your doctor run a flu test. Sometimes, the flu can lead to severe complications like pneumonia and hospitalization. Influenza viruses are classified as A, B, C, and D; the virus mainly responsible for causing the seasonal flu is influenza A. Influenza B is more common in children and tends to cause milder symptoms than type A. Influenza C virus infections are rare, and tend to be benign; they don’t appear to lead to human epidemics. Influenza D viruses, on the other hand, infect cattle but not humans – meaning there is no risk of illness for people due to this strain.

Symptoms of the flu

  • Fever
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Chills and/or sweating
  • Headaches
  • Dry but persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Runny and/or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Eye pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (mainly in children)

The flu is highly contagious and can spread through saliva and mucous droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It can also be transmitted by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and touching one’s nose, eyes or mouth. People with the flu are most contagious during the late period of illness, which can potentially last up to a week after symptoms begin. The most effective way to prevent spreading the flu is by avoiding sick people and getting vaccinated annually.

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How Long Does the Flu Last?

The flu typically lasts about two weeks. However, the contagious period can begin up to 2 days before symptoms appear and may last up to 5-7 days after symptoms appear. This means you’re highly infectious even if you don’t show any outward signs of the virus. It is important to practice preventive measures such as frequent handwashing and avoiding those known to be ill with influenza or other infectious diseases.

At What Point is The Flu Contagious?

Studies have shown that the flu can be contagious up to 48 hours before symptoms appear. This is why it is important to stay home when you’re feeling ill and avoid contact with other people, such as going to work or school. We also advise avoiding contact with children and seniors, as their immune systems are more likely to be compromised.

How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of Getting or Spreading the Flu?

The most important way to protect yourself is to get the flu vaccine yearly. You can also reduce your risk of contracting or spreading the flu by washing your hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, and avoiding contact with those who are ill. Finally, ensure that any objects you use – such as doorknobs or tables – are disinfected regularly to prevent the spread of germs.

Flu Shot

The virus’s presence in the body explains how getting a flu shot can still be beneficial, even if someone has already been exposed to it. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to build up after the initial exposure, so getting a flu shot as soon as possible can help ensure you don’t develop full-blown symptoms. Additionally, recommended hygiene habits such as frequent handwashing and avoiding contact with those who are sick can help reduce your risk of becoming ill.

If you are not a fan of vaccines, there are ways to build your immune system naturally. You can cultivate an effective immune system by making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, getting enough restful sleep, managing stress levels, and taking dietary supplements.

A Low-Inflammation, High Phytonutrient Diet for Optimal Health

To protect yourself from the flu, follow a nutrient-rich diet full of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. This low-inflammatory meal plan will help support your body’s natural defenses with vital nutrients while reducing inflammation to promote immunity. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent way to ensure you’re eating in this manner for optimal health benefits!

Avoid Sugar 

Medical and scientific professionals are aware that sugar hurts immunity. While there isn’t much information about how it affects immune function, we do know that consuming extra sugar causes an inflammatory response that can lead to weakened immunity. A research paper examined young men who drank low-to-moderate amounts of sugary drinks and revealed some interesting results. The results indicated that regardless of group (high or low added fructose or glucose), all participants experienced increased fasting glucose and Hs-CRP levels. To explain more, High-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (Hs-CRP) is an inflammation marker; when present, it can signal either acute or chronic inflammation.


Staying hydrated is essential for optimal cellular functioning and helps your bodily tissue remain healthy. Our bodies are roughly 60% water, so every cell needs H2O to thrive. Water supports temperature regulation and keeps the membranes of our eyes, nose, and mouth lubricated while helping transport oxygen and nutrients amongst cells and in joint lubrication. When we don’t drink enough fluids, it becomes harder for our body to maintain balance internally – scientifically known as homeostasis!

Reaching a state of homeostasis via hydration is an uncomplicated approach to promoting wellness and averting sickness. To remain optimally hydrated, it is recommended that you drink roughly one-half to one ounce of water for each pound your body weighs daily. Furthermore, incorporating electrolytes may aid in retaining fluids within the body’s system.

If your weight is 150 pounds, you should drink between 75 to 150 ounces of water each day. For people in hot climates or who exercise daily and intensely, one ounce per pound of body weight is the recommended amount for optimal hydration.


Exercise is not only beneficial, but it can also boost your immune system! Scientists have determined that working out helps the body’s natural immunity recognize and eradicate affected cells faster. Moreover, regular physical activity has been known to slow down immunosenescence – or age-related decline of our defenses against sicknesses – meaning you are unlikely to become ill as you get older. To experience optimal health benefits, professionals suggest 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week plus two days solely committed to adult strength training activities.


If you want to stay free of illnesses like the flu, it is paramount that you get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system and make you more prone to becoming sick with something, especially as contagious as the flu. To give your body the best chance at fighting off diseases, establish a good sleeping routine with effective sleep hygiene practices – because restful and recuperative slumber strengthens immunity!

Immunity Building Supplements 

Reinvigorate your immune system with science-backed supplements! These safe and proficient products supply essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help your body guard against viruses, infections, and diseases. Moreover, these natural remedies are fortified with herbs like probiotics or antioxidants that have been scientifically demonstrated to bolster immunity.

A supplement regimen rich in these active ingredients can increase your ability to defend yourself from any sickness – safeguarding both physical and mental well-being. Taking the correct dosage of supplements daily can reduce your chances of getting colds, flu, and other illnesses. It also helps in reducing fatigue and enhancing overall well-being. Before consuming any dietary supplements, it is always wise to consult with your healthcare provider. Doing so can assist in avoiding potentially dangerous interactions between the supplement and other medications you may be taking, as well as helping to prevent unanticipated side effects.


Sambucus Nigra, or Elderberry, is one of the most potent botanicals used to treat flu symptoms and stress for centuries. Not only can this healing plant bolster your immune system to prevent sicknesses such as a very contagious flu virus, but it is also helpful during respiratory issues by reducing their severity. People often take elderberry supplements such as liquid extracts, capsules, or tablets; however, you could also enjoy them in different forms like syrup, tea, or jam – they are even a yummy addition to smoothies!

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can safeguard and support the protective layers of our skin. It boosts innate and adaptive immune systems, which helps combat potential illnesses. You must obtain vitamin C through your diet to truly reap its benefits.

Foods abundant in this vital nutrient range from:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Vitamins supplements, if needed for additional amounts

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a greater chance of infection due to its valuable role in the human body. Primarily formed from exposure to sunlight, it binds with Vitamin D receptors (VDR) located on various cellular surfaces – including immune cells – and helps spread information about invading pathogens for an effective response by fighter cells. Fortunately, you may acquire vitamin D through food sources, sun rays, and supplements.

Vitamin D is essential for your overall health. Vitamin supplements are also viable if you struggle to meet this requirement through diet alone. Or, spend 10-15 minutes outside each day – soaking up the sunshine!

To get your daily dose, include these foods containing Vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
  • Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, or milk
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified foods such as orange juice cereal & oatmeal


To protect against pesky colds and viruses, you must ensure you’re getting enough of the micronutrient Zinc. The best way to do this is by having a micronutrient panel completed – this will let you know if adding zinc as part of your wellness routine would be beneficial for your specific needs. A balanced meal plan featuring the foods below will help you get the right amount of zinc daily. And for an extra layer of protection, taking a zinc supplement can help ensure adequate amounts are present within the body.

For your daily nutritional needs to help prevent the flu, include an array of zinc-rich foods. This includes:

  • oysters
  • red meat
  • poultry
  • seafood
  • beans
  • nuts
  • fortified cereals
  • whole grains.


Clinically, this botanical has been used to help temper the immune system. A study of 755 healthy people revealed that Echinacea safeguards against viral infections and reduces colds when taken therapeutically. There are many ways you can take echinacea, such as capsules or pills, liquid extract, tincture, or tea form, depending on your preference.


Probiotics are essential to any wellness routine, as they introduce beneficial microbes into the gut. This helps to fortify 80% of your immune system that’s located in your digestive tract. A comprehensive study of 12 randomized controlled trials examined probiotic supplements for their ability to prevent acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). The results showed that taking probiotics was much more advantageous in staving off URTIs compared with a placebo.

Nourish your body with naturally probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh. Enjoy a variety of pickles for an added boost in probiotics, or take a supplement to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients.


Adaptogenic botanicals not only support the body’s response to stress but can also help regulate various organs like your thyroid, adrenals, and immune system. Suppose you’re looking for herbs to boost immunity precisely. In that case, Asian Ginseng, Astragalus, Eleuthero, Reishi Cordyceps, and Maca are all great options with their distinct way of regulating the immune system.

Who Is Most at Risk of Contracting and/or Spreading the Flu?

Everyone is vulnerable to catching and transmitting the flu virus, yet certain people are more exposed. Individuals with weakened immune systems, youngsters (especially those under two years old), and seniors have a much greater likelihood of contracting severe influenza. In addition to social distancing, these groups must practice frequent hand washing and consistently disinfect high-touch surfaces for their safety.

The flu virus is passed along through coughing, sneezing, or even coming into contact with saliva, mucus, or other respiratory secretions. You can also catch it from another person simply by touching them – a handshake or a hug could spread the disease! Be wary: you can have the virus before feeling sick and continue to be contagious after your symptoms are gone. In some cases, someone who has recovered may still pass on the illness – up to 24 hours prior to noticing any of their own symptoms.

Younger children, adults over 65, expectant mothers, and people with weakened immune systems or existing medical conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease are most vulnerable to catching and transmitting the flu virus. Furthermore, individuals living in crowded areas such as college dormitories may be more prone to falling ill due to their daily close contact with numerous potential virus carriers who can unknowingly spread it.


The flu virus is highly contagious and can have severe consequences for those most at risk of catching and spreading it. It’s essential to take preventive measures such as getting the annual flu vaccine, practicing good hygiene habits, staying away from those known to be ill with influenza or other infectious diseases, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. While there’s no guarantee that you won’t become sick, taking these precautions can significantly reduce your risk.

3 Replies to “How Long is The Flu Contagious For?”

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