Can I donate blood if I have a cold or the flu?

You should not donate blood when you're sick. In fact, the National Institutes of Health says that you should be free of cold and flu symptoms for at least 48 hours before you give blood.

Symptoms of the flu include a cough, fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, and sore throat. Cold symptoms may be similar, but colds are less likely to cause fever or headaches.

American Red Cross
Administration
You can’t donate blood if you have a fever, a productive cough, if you do not feel well, or if you are taking antibiotics to treat a sinus, throat, or lung infection.
Guidelines on eligibility to give blood change from time to time. The most up-to-date eligibility information can be obtained by contacting the American Red Cross blood center nearest you.

Continue Learning about Blood Basics

Blood Basics

Blood Basics

Our blood is a living tissue with a variety of critical functions: It delivers oxygen and nutrients to our organs, fights infections and creates blood clots, preventing us from bleeding excessively when a blood vessel is damaged. ...

The liquid part of our blood, called plasma, is key for maintaining blood pressure and supplying critical proteins for blood clotting, immunity and maintaining the correct pH balance in our body -- critical to cell function. Plasma also carries the solid part of our blood -- white blood cells, which work to destroy viruses and bacteria; red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body; and platelets, which help clotting. Learn more about blood basics with expert advice from Sharecare.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.