How Long Does the Flu Last?

Flu is the short term for Influenza. Flu usually comes from the Influenza virus. It does not choose between types of climates. It is prevalent almost anywhere.

woman with orange scarf looking at teddy bear with flu pouring medicine

Flu is the short term for Influenza. Flu usually comes from the Influenza virus. It does not choose between types of climates. It is prevalent almost anywhere. The worst kind of flu is during the winter season. The dampness and coldness of the air do not help the healing period of the flu. It is a universally accepted fact that the regular flu might last up to three days or at least a week. This depends on the immune system and the person itself. Some symptoms of the flu, however, stay longer than necessary (2 weeks or more) but slowly and surely, your body will soon go back to its healed stage.

There is specific complication though once you have contracted flu. You are especially at risk if your immune system is weak. These complications are the following:

  • Ear infection
  • nose and sinusitis
  • bronchitis
  • pneumonia
  • and other respiratory illness

These complications should not be taken for granted since it might lead to a more life-threatening complication that might possibly lead to death. This complication can also be due solely because of the influenza virus or another contraction of another type of virus due to your current weak immune system. Whatever it is, if it leads to a complication, you might need to admit yourself to the nearest hospital.

Also, flu can make matters worse with your current illness especially if the illness is related to your respiratory system. Some factors make you susceptible to the flu complications mentioned in the paragraphs above. These factors are the following:

  • You are about 60 years old and older
  • Toddlers and infants
  • If you are an expecting mother
  • Is over the body mass index calculations
  • If you live for a long time in nursing homes where airborne diseases are prevalent
  • If you have an inherently weak immune system
  • If you have chronic diseases
  • If you have certain organ diseases

The next fact that we need to tackle is the effects of different types of viruses in a human being. Does each type uniquely affect the duration of the flu? No, according to medical journals, the types or strains of influenza do not affect the duration of the flu uniquely. However, each strain can have an effect on the severity of the flu.

The Comparison in Terms of Duration of Flu and Cold

Cold and flu are mistaken for like one and the other. Cold and flu though are very different from each other. They have similarities though in their symptoms. Cold is actually milder than Flu. A cold can be resolved in a week while flu might be resolved possibility in two weeks.

When are You Considered as Contagious?

If you contract an influenza virus, four days after you contract it, symptoms will most likely appear already. So, you are probably going to be contagious one day before your symptoms after. That is, you are most contagious on the 5th day of contracting the virus. That does not end there, and you will still be infectious after you get over the symptoms. The duration of your being infectious after getting ill is about seven days.

Children and older people might be contagious for more extended periods compared to young adults. Another factor to consider too in being contagious for more extended periods is if your immune system is inherently weak.

In addition to that, the influenza virus can also be contracted by surface areas that are in frequent contact with humans. These are doorknobs, tables, spoon, and fork. The virus even stays longer than most viruses. It remains active for up to 24 hours. To avoid getting the virus, always try to wash your hands now and then.

The Treatment for Flu

Flu, when contracted, is not necessarily an illness to be worried about. In fact, you do not need to go to a doctor to have you treated. You can treat yourself at home. You only need to rest and complete your sleeping cycle. Eat a balanced diet and soup for comfort. Also, try to hydrate yourself by drinking lots and lots of water. Eating food that is rich in vitamin C also might help. You can also purchase over the counter medication for your sickness.

If you wanted flu symptoms to go away faster, you can go to a doctor an ask for prescription medicine that can make the symptoms fade fast. These medicines are called antiviral medication.

Another way of preventing flu is by getting your flu vaccine shots. This is quite convenient since you really do not have to worry about getting flu because your body blocks the influenza virus from incubating.

When to go and See a Doctor?

Flu is nothing to worry about but when it becomes a complication and the duration of the symptoms is abnormally long, you need to go to a doctor. Also, look out for these signs, if you experience any of these signs, you might need a medical intervention:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Unbearable pain in the chest
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Brain fog
  • Sudden vomiting
  • Erratic recurrence of flu symptoms
  • For Toddlers and Infants
    • If their skin is turning into blue
    • Breathing quickly
    • Dehydrated
    • No appetite
    • Rash
    • Very high body temperature


You know your body very well. If ever you see any weird occurrence or the slightest suspicion that your flu is not the regular flu, please admit yourself to the nearest hospital and see a doctor right away. Flu is quite mild and is usually not an illness to be worried about. There are complications of it though that can be quite worrisome especially if you already have a weak immune system. Flu typically lasts for a week or so and do not need an extensive amount of medication. Take note though of the risks and complications that you might contract upon the onset of the flu. If you suspect any weird symptoms that are not inherent with the flu, it is time to have it checked by a doctor. Regular flu though resolves itself in a week and requires simple treatment like bed rest, drinking lots of fluid, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding extraneous physical activities.

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