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Question

When is a cold or the flu contagious?

Answer

A person who has the common cold can be contagious - that is, they can spread the infection to others - for as long as three weeks. However, if you catch a cold, you are most contagious two to four days after your symptoms appear.

If you develop the flu, or influenza, you may be contagious one day before you begin to feel sick. After that, you remain contagious for up to one week. Children with the flu may remain contagious somewhat longer.

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Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a Walgreens.com pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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