How Do I Know If I’m Contagious?

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When Am I Contagious

How Do I Know If I’m Contagious?


When you get sick, it’s hard to tell when it’s safe to go back to work. The last thing you want is to get your coworkers sick and have the whole office glare at you for a week, especially when you’re feeling miserable.


How can I tell if I’m contagious?

The worst part about catching someone else’s cold is that by the time their symptoms start, you may have already contracted it without knowing. Most doctors agree that the contagious period of a cold is 1-2 days prior to the start of symptoms, as 5-7 days after symptoms start.

With the common cold, you’ll probably be contagious up until the point when your symptoms have disappeared—usually about a week. However, there are thousands of different viruses in the world, from stomach bugs to meningitis, and each one interacts differently with the person they infect. That’s why it’s important to limit virus transmission as much as possible.


How to avoid catching a viral infection

The number one thing you can do to limit your exposure is wash your hands frequently. This is especially true in the two places where viruses run rampant: bathrooms and restaurants. Washing your hands before (and after) every meal, and after every trip the bathroom will cut your infection risk significantly.


Other tips include:

  • Not sharing utensils, straws or cups with someone who is sick
  • Make sure you are up to date on your immunizations
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible, especially when your hands are unwashed


How to avoid giving your virus to someone else

Many people can’t afford to miss a day at work, so they’ll try to muscle their way through a day of agony. The truth is, your co-workers would appreciate it if you did yourself the favor of staying home. You’ll end up healing faster by resting anyways.

Along with the all-important tip of washing your hands often, you should do your best to cough and sneeze away from others or into your sleeve—it’s the polite and the healthy thing to do. But unfortunately, the only true way to keep your friends and family safe is to avoid them altogether during that 6-10 day window when you are most likely contagious.


Come on in and visit with your pharmacist at your local Family Pharmacy and we’ll get you on the road to healthy.

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