When Should You Stay Home With the Flu?

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Do you need to stay home when you have the flu?. Image Source/Getty Images

When you get sick with the flu (influenza), you probably won't feel like doing much of anything. It typically starts with a "hit by a truck" feeling and just getting out of bed is difficult. But as the days go on and your symptoms improve, you may wonder just how long you need to stay home. Whether it's because you are concerned about spreading the illness to others or want to give yourself the best shot at recovering completely and as quickly as possible, it's important to know how long you should avoid other people and rest.

How Long Is the Flu Contagious?

If you get the flu, you are contagious from 1 day before symptoms appear to 5-7 days after symptoms start. Children and people with weakened immune systems may actually be contagious for longer than 7 days.

Because you are more likely to spread the flu when you have a fever, the CDC recommends that you stay home and away from other people for as long as you have a fever and for 24 hours after your fever has gone away - without the use of fever-reducing medications. If your fever goes down after you take Tylenol but then comes back when it wears off, it's not really gone and you are still contagious. 

How Long Will It Take to Recover?

Most people who get the flu are sick for less than two weeks. Symptoms may only last for a few days but if they persist for more than 2 weeks, you should contact your healthcare provider. There is a chance you may have developed a secondary infection or complication.

 

Staying home until you are fever-free and have enough energy to complete your daily tasks is essential for a quick and complete recovery. Do your best to take care of yourself until you feel better and most of your symptoms have resolved before you return to work, school or going out into the community.

The flu is not a mild illness and you need to do your best to take care of yourself when you have it and avoid spreading it to others. 

Sources:

"How Flu Spreads". Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 15 Aug 14. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 23 Nov 14.

"Transmission". Flu (Influenza) 16 Nov 12. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. 23 Nov 14.

"Flu Symptoms & Severity". Seasonal Influenza (Flu) 15 Aug 14. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Department of Health and Human Services. 23 Nov 14.

"Symptoms and Complications". Flu (Influenza) 14 Nov 12. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. 23 Nov 14.

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