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How long does cold stay contagious?

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Posted on Wed, 11 May 2016
Question: I am scheduled to drive my dad to chemo two hours away on Monday (he has no back up plan and will have to cancel if I don't). The problem is on Monday i started to feel like I was getting a cold most likely caught from a co-worker. I started taking natural stuff and it has stayed very mild, no coughing or runny nose. I mainly am just tired and have a stuffy nose with a slight headache. I really don't feel bad I just feel I have a "touch of something", It has been 5 days and I am supposed to drive dad on Monday. How long does a cold stay contagious. And with a mild cold like this where I am not coughing or blowing my nose would it be safe to drive him (he will be in the backseat). I mean can you infect someone by just breathing or talking in the car? Thanks!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti (3 hours later)
Brief Answer:
It should be safe with basic precautions.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for your query.

1. Most viral infections are contagious a day or so before symptoms arise.

2. In the prodromal period symptoms can be mild.

3. A week into the cold, it should be less contagious.

4. Both of you can use face masks. Spread of infection by droplets while speaking or coughing is about 3 feet (one meter). Airborne infections can be avoided with an N95 specification face mask.

5. It should be safe for him to travel in the back seat while you drive.

I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any more questions I will be available to answer them.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Sumit Bhatti (49 minutes later)
Thanks so much. I thought about masks but he is short of
breath and I don't think he will agree. Do you think I need to
wear one if he sits in the back seat and I do not cough or talk much?
I am afraid it will make my nose run which might be worse since it is not
running without one. I will be on day 7 since onset of symptoms.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti (5 hours later)
Brief Answer:
It should be fine. Try a mask for yourself.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for writing back.

1. It should be fine also since its day 7 since the start of symptoms.

2. At least try a mask for yourself in advance. If it is not comfortable for you or him, do not use a mask.

3. A three feet distance helps decrease the risk of droplet transmission considerably.

4. Hence you can safely travel with him.

I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any more questions I will be available to answer them.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Sumit Bhatti (6 hours later)
Thanks again. One more thing.... Are the looser masks with the
ear loops effective or does it need to be an N95 respirator?
I often see nurses, dentists, ect wearing the looser face masks and
often wonder if they are effective. They are more comfortable for sure:)
Thanks again and I will rate.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
The N95 masks are more effective.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for writing back.

1. The regular masks offer some protection, including droplet transmission.

2. The N95 mask from 3M has respirator valve type which is very comfortable to wear.

3. The N95 mask is much more effective for airborne infections.

Wish your father all the best for his chemotherapy and further treatment.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
doctor
Answered by
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Dr. Sumit Bhatti

Otolaryngologist / ENT Specialist

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 2660 Questions

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How long does cold stay contagious?

Brief Answer: It should be safe with basic precautions. Detailed Answer: Hi, Thank you for your query. 1. Most viral infections are contagious a day or so before symptoms arise. 2. In the prodromal period symptoms can be mild. 3. A week into the cold, it should be less contagious. 4. Both of you can use face masks. Spread of infection by droplets while speaking or coughing is about 3 feet (one meter). Airborne infections can be avoided with an N95 specification face mask. 5. It should be safe for him to travel in the back seat while you drive. I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any more questions I will be available to answer them. Regards.