Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. If I am sick with flu symptoms — such as sore throat, fever, runny nose, cough, etc. — how long should I stay home? I don’t want to spread the flu to others.Good question, and kudos to you for thinking about the health of those around you! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with the flu or flu-like symptoms stay at home and away from others until they’re fever-free — sans medication — for at least 24 hours. That holds true whether you’ve got seasonal flu or H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, so curl up with a good book, a cozy blanket and settle in for some get-well time.
Staying home when you’re sick helps reduce the chance of others becoming infected, whether they’re your co-workers, fellow gym-goers and public transportation riders or friends at your book club. If you have a high temperature, it means you’re “shedding” the influenza virus and you’re highly contagious. Even if you are using an antiviral medication from your doctor, you should still stay home. There are virus strains that are resistant to antiviral medications, so the flu can still be contagious.
Remember to cover your cough and wash your hands both while you are sick and once you are back on your feet, and avoid contact with others who are at high-risk for getting the flu. If you need some tips on taking care of yourself when you’ve got the flu or caring for others who are sick in your home, check out CDC’s Web site for recommendations.
For more on staying healthy and flu-free, visit CDC’s seasonal flu Web site, H1N1 flu site, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Flu.gov site.