Did you know that between 5% and 20% of American citizens get the flu each year? This disease can cause millions of outpatient visits each year and it might even result in death, if not properly treated on time.
Many people also ask questions such as “is the flu contagious?”. Well, the short answer is yes. Flu can spread from person to person with great rapidity and it might infect other persons who have a poor immune system.
Keep reading to find out more about flu, its symptoms, and contagiousness.
As mentioned earlier, people who have flu can easily spread it to their friends, family members or coworkers. Doctors believe that you can spread the virus when you talk, sneeze or cough. The virus lives in little droplets of saliva that can spread through the air. When these droplets land on someone else’s mouth or nose, they can reach the bloodstream. That’s how the flu virus spreads in most cases.
However, it’s also possible to get the flu by being in contact with an infected object.
Let’s say that a person with flu uses basic items such as a keyboard, mouse or phone. If you use these objects as well and accidentally touch your mouth, nose or eyes, you get the flu virus into your system. That’s why workers with flu are told to sit at home to recover, so that they don’t spread the virus to their colleagues.
This is also known as the period of contagiousness. It’s important to know more about it because it directly influences for how long you can pass the virus to someone else. For example, your flu virus is contagious one or two days before you start to develop any symptoms.
The most dangerous period is probably the three to four day period while you feel the full symptoms. For some people, this period can spread to seven days. If you sneeze or cough during this week, there are high chances of infecting others. That’s why you should mostly stay at home to recover and wear a mask covering your mouth and nose to protect others.
People who have a weak immune system, as well as seniors and children, are more likely to spread the virus even after seven days.
To sum it up, it’s probably safe to assume that your period of contagiousness can stretch for seven days plus or minus a few days before and after this week.
Your boss would definitely want you back at work, but if you’re at risk of infecting others, you might reduce the company’s productivity even more. With that being said, it’s important to understand the signs that you’re finally able to get back to work
For example, if you experience no fever for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications then you’re probably ready to return.
Also, if you don’t experience vomiting for at least 24 hours, chances are that your body is recovering quickly. If you cough and sneeze with less frequency than before, maybe you’re safe to be back at the office. Talk to your superior, mention your health condition and eventually you’ll return to work.
It’s also important to consider your energy levels and your willingness to be productive.
If you feel that you can take a full day of work, you don’t experience persistent headaches and you can focus easily then these are good signs that you’re mostly recovered. You could also use a flu guard spray that improves your immune system and minimizes flu symptoms.
Obviously, no one wants to have the flu, but as mentioned at the beginning of this article, it can affect up to 1 in 5 American citizens. When it happens, you are allowed to recover at home, but you don’t want to miss out on too many workdays either because some of them might be cut from your salary. This is why many people want to return to work as quickly as possible.
However, apart from the risk of infecting your coworkers, you also have the risk of relapsing.
Remember that your immune system is constantly fighting with the flu virus and you should allow that to happen. If you come back to work too soon, you’re exposed to new sets of microbes, bacteria, viruses, and of course, stress. In some cases, the immune system might not cope up with all these issues and the flu virus might start multiplicating again in your system.
That’s why you should carefully assess your symptoms and how you feel. If possible, talk to your doctor and ask if you’re ready to get back to work. This applies to something else such as sports training, going back to school, etc because all these environments can make the flu virus relapse.
Once you have your doctor’s approval and you’re finally back to your office, you still need to be careful. Make sure that you wash your hands often and try to stay away from coworkers with weak immune systems. If possible, wear a small face mask that covers your mouth and nose to avoid spreading the virus to others.
If you feel the need to sneeze or cough, do it in the bend of your elbow, not your hands, to avoid spreading the virus even more.
So, is the flu contagious? Now you know more about the contagiousness period, how to protect your coworkers, and when’ its a good time to get back to work.
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