The flu is a virus that spreads easily. It’s airborne, so you can catch it if someone sneezes or coughs within earshot. It’s also readily transmitted on surfaces and objects because the virus remains active even after the person with the flu virus has left an area. The flu is rarely fatal, but it comes with some nasty side effects.
Most people feel like they are at death’s door for about a week during a bout with the flu. Fortunately, this is not always the case. Once you have contracted the flu virus, your body will usually take about 10 days to clear it from your system. Keep reading for more details about how long does the flu last and what you can do to shorten your recovery time!
What are the symptoms of the flu?
The main symptoms of the flu are a high fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, and coughing. Other symptoms that may occur include a stuffy nose, sore throat, and vomiting or nausea. If you are very young or very old or have an underlying medical condition, you may experience some additional symptoms.
If you suspect that you have the flu, the best thing you can do is to stay home and rest. Infection can be transmitted even before symptoms appear, and you don’t want to risk infecting others.
Although fever can be a good sign that your body is fighting off infection, it can be dangerous for very young infants and the elderly, who may be susceptible to health problems related to fever, such as dehydration.
How long does the flu last for most people?
Most people will experience flu symptoms for about a week. That’s the ideal scenario, but some people may experience symptoms for up to 2 weeks or longer. If you are at an increased risk of complications from the flu (see below), try to be vigilant about self-care.
You should follow the basic rules for taking care of yourself if you have the flu: rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take some over-the-counter medication for your fever, aches, and pains. Avoid going to work and avoid contact with others, especially those at risk of severe flu complications.
How long does the flu last for babies and toddlers?
Infants and toddlers are more susceptible to serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia. Be extra vigilant and follow basic hygiene rules, such as frequent hand washing, to protect them from the flu. Infants can get the flu as early as 6 months of age. Symptoms in infants are similar to those in adults, but they are harder to recognize because they are less likely to report feeling unwell. Infants and toddlers are treated with antiviral drugs when they are very sick. The best way to protect your baby from the flu and other serious infections is with the flu vaccine.
How long does the flu last for adults?
For most adults, the flu will last about a week. However, if you have certain pre-existing conditions, you may be more susceptible to complications from the flu, such as pneumonia. If you get the flu and are at risk for complications, you should stay home for about 2 weeks. You may not know that you are at risk for complications until you have already contracted the flu.
If you have one or more of the following conditions, you are at risk of complications from the flu:
- You are over 65 years of age.
- You have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, liver disease, or an autoimmune disease.
- You are pregnant.
- You are a child under 2 years of age.
When should you see a doctor about your flu symptoms?
If you have a flu-like illness and experience any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor:
- You have a high fever that lasts more than 3 days.
- You have a sudden increase in the severity of your symptoms, or the flu lasts longer than 7 days.
- You have a cough that lasts more than 3 days.
- You develop shortness of breath.
- You cough up blood or you have blood in your stool.
- You have a change in mental states, such as confusion, delirium, or hallucinations.
- You are pregnant or are caring for someone who is pregnant.
- You have an underlying health condition.
How to shorten your recovery time from the flu?
There are a few things you can do to shorten your recovery time from the flu. First, get plenty of rest. Rest helps your body to heal and recover more quickly. You should avoid strenuous activities during your recovery period. If your flu symptoms don’t resolve within a week, or if you experience other flu symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath, see a doctor.
You should also make sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Fluids can help reduce your fever, ease aches and pains, and prevent your cough from getting worse. Fluids include water, broth, sports drinks, herbal teas, and electrolyte-containing beverages.
You can greatly reduce your risk of contracting the flu by getting vaccinated each year before the flu season starts. It is also important to practice good hygiene to protect yourself from contracting the flu and to protect other people from getting sick, especially the elderly and the very young.
These simple steps can save you a lot of time and energy and can make all the difference in your recovery from the flu. Remember, once you’ve contracted the flu, there’s no cure. The only way to protect yourself is to get vaccinated before the flu season starts.