Research: Many millennials don't stay home when they have the flu

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(CBS) -- According to new research released by CityMD, millennials who have the flu or symptoms of the flu are much more likely to venture out than those who are older, potentially exposing the people they encounter to illness.

CBS News reports the survey of 1,800 Americans found that about 75 percent of millennials admitted to leaving the house while they were sick, compared to 56 percent of older adults. Of that 75 percent, the most common place they said they went was a drug store, followed by a grocery store. Nearly 40 percent said they went to work sick.

"Most millennials are young and healthy," said Dr. David Shih, executive vice president of strategy, health and innovation at CityMD, told CBS News. "Many of them probably never even had the flu before so they may think some of their symptoms are just extended cold-like symptoms, and so they may underestimate how long it takes to recover from it."

Shih said many young people may tend to think of themselves as "invincible," even though that attitude could cause them to infect others around them.

"The flu is one of those silent and contagious diseases that we see every year, and millions of Americans get the flu," Shih said. "Unfortunately, there are some population segments that are more at risk like the elderly, the very young and pregnant women. When we have a large population who are out and about in public spaces with the flu, there is a higher exposure."

So how do you know if you have the flu? Symptoms include fever or chills; cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue or feeling tired; and vomiting and diarrhea, though stomach problems tend to occur more in children than in adults.

People who are sick with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away through coughs, sneezes or by simply talking. Those who are sick should always cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands frequently will help reduce the spread.

Flu germs can also last on surfaces for up to 24 hours, depending on the surface. CBS reports the harder the surface, the longer germs can last.