Colds can really ruin your week. But if you give one to your whole office, that’s just plain rude. The cruddiness of a cold isn’t solely symptomatic. It’s one thing to have to endure the slog of sniffles, sneezing, and sinus pressure, but it’s another thing entirely to spread your suffering to the whole office. But when exactly is it safe to exit your quarantine?
It’s not as simple as reading your symptoms—your illness window is much smaller than your contagious window. According toHealthline, if you have a cold, you’re contagious for 1-2 days before your symptoms develop (since you can’t see the future, this isn’t all that useful) and for two weeks after you were first exposed to the virus.
For the flu, you become contagious a day before the symptoms start and stop being contagious about five to seven days after your first fall ill with symptoms. When it comes to a stomach virus, the window for being contagious before you feel ill isn’t quite as defined, but you remain contagious for up to two weeks after you’ve made your recovery. Considering the brevity of the average stomach virus, that can be particularly dangerous for those around you.
If your ailment timeline still falls within those ranges, it’s probably best to invest in one of those stylish surgical masks, for everyone’s sake. Opt for soap over hand sanitizer (it doesn’t last as long as you think it does), stop licking door knobs, and stay up to date on your shots; this flu season is supposed to be a doozy.