Get Ready Mailbag: Should I stay home if I have the flu?

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 getready@apha.org.

Q. How long should I stay home from school or work when I have the flu? I don’t get many days off of work and I don't like my kids to miss more school than necessary, but I also don't want to get other people sick.

A. Although it may be difficult to take off time from work or school when you're sick with the flu, it is the best thing you can do to do keep others safe.

However, there's no hard and fast rule about how long you should stay home. The duration of the flu varies and so does the infectious period. But as a rule of thumb, you should probably stay home if you are exhibiting flu symptoms such as fever, severe headaches, muscle aches and pain, fatigue, cough, sore throat or runny nose. Ideally, you want to stay home until you're symptom free.

If you have no other option and must return to school or work before it is safe, take precautions to avoid making others sick. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently and avoid touching shared objects. Also avoid shaking hands and do your best to stay out the personal space of others.


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