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When is a cold considered to be contagious?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

A person who has the common cold can be contagious—that is, they can spread the infection causing the illness 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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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.