Skip to main content

Cold and Flu Facts: When Am I Most Contagious?

< Back to the article list

Now that cold and flu season has officially hit, many of us are doing what we can to dodge those viruses and to keep ourselves as healthy as possible so we can fight back at the first sign of a sniffle or fever.

Even though the symptoms can initially feel the same, cold and flu viruses are different, and at the end of the day, the flu is what usually knocks us down the fastest with body aches, a fever, and fatigue. The typical cold usually just results in a stuffy or runny nose, a cough, and a sore throat. Because colds can be mild, many of us will still try to get ourselves to work or school while we’re dealing with one, armed with tissues and cold medicine (like Theraflu’s Multi-Symptom Severe Cold Hot Liquid Powder). But one thing we should all consider before we drag ourselves to our desks: how contagious are we, really?

It’s important to know how long we’re contagious for and to be aware that we can pass on a cold by doing things as simple as sharing objects (like a pen), coughing, or sneezing around others. So before you decide to layer up and head out into the brisk day with your stuffy nose, here are some of the common contagion timeframes for some of the most common illnesses.

When Am I Most Contagious?


  • Most contagious: First 48-72 hours
  • Total contagious time: Up to 2 weeks


  • Most contagious: First 48 hours
  • Total contagious time: 10 days

Sore throat/strep

  • Most contagious: 48-72 hours
  • Total contagious time: Four weeks if untreated, 24-48 hours if taking antibiotics

Stomach virus/stomach flu

  • Most contagious: 24-28 hours
  • Total contagious time: 48-72 hours after symptoms resolve

So what should you do during these “highly contagious” times? The advice is almost always to avoid contact with others (this means work from home if possible!), wash hands often, disinfect frequently touched items, and move away from people if you have to cough and sneeze. While you’re healing up that contagious cold in bed or on the couch, there are certain steps you can take to mitigate symptoms, too. One of the easiest? Pour yourself a soothing cup of relief with Theraflu Multi-Symptom Severe Cold Hot Liquid Powder. Combining the great taste of green tea and honey lemon with with a powerful combination of ingredients that go to work on your worst cold and flu symptoms — nasal congestion, cough, body aches, sore throat, headache and fever — Theraflu will help you feel better fast, so life can get back to normal!

Related articles