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How Long Does the Flu Last?

What is the flu?

Influenza is the proper name for the flu. It is an acute (short-term) viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, sinuses and bronchial tubes). It causes more health problems than the common cold.

Indeed, the flu causes serious health complications and is responsible for 20,000 deaths in the United States every year (mostly in people older than 65 years old). The flu season typically runs from November to April.


So exactly how long does the flu last?

It's difficult to give you the answer as to how long the flu last. Different people are at different levels of health and their immune system's ability to respond to viruses varies.

However, here's what the typical person would experience.

Day How Long Does the Flu Last?
0 You caught the flu viral. Incubation period can be as short as 24 hours.
1 - 4 You start to show signs and symptoms of the flu (see table below for the list of symptoms) and experience fever. Most people will have a fever for 2 to 4 days.
4 - 7 You may continue to have symptoms but they will become less severe. Many people would be able to return to work if they are free from fever for more than 24 hours (without use fever-reducing medications).
7 - 10 The majority of people will be able to return to their normal daily activities.
10 Only a small minority of people will need to stay home because of the symptoms that are still present.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommends that people with the flu stay home until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever. This will avoid spreading the virus to other people.


What are the symptoms of the flu?

When you get the flu, the symptoms usually come rapidly and typically include the following:

Flu (Influenza) Symptoms
Weakness, sore throat, congestion and body aches
Sudden onset of severe aching, pain and headaches
High fever and chills (as high as 40o C or 104o F)
Severe fatigue and discomfort requiring bed rest
Hacking cough

Boosting the immune system allows your own natural defense to better fight off the flu virus. Many of these remedies work by preventing the virus from multiplying or they stimulate your immune system to help it better fight off the virus.
 

Related topics that may be of interest to you

The Flu - See the full review on how to prevent and treat the flu.




Return to FAQ List from How Long Does the Flu Last

References & Center for Disease Control (CDC)
Created: November 26, 2009


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