When you’re just coming down with the flu, you might wonder how long the symptoms will last, and how long you’ll be contagious to others.
Flu symptoms generally start within two days of exposure to the virus, but how long the flu lasts depends on your immune system,
what strain of the virus you’re infected with, and how old you are. The more healthy and young you are, the more quickly your body will fight off the infection and begin to feel better again.
What causes the flu?
The flu is caused by a group of viruses called influenza. There are several strains of influenza, and they can mutate rapidly—which is why you need to get a flu shot every year.
They can also spread through airborne droplets, touching objects contaminated with germs (like your hands) and then putting your hands in your mouth or nose.
It’s important to take steps to prevent spreading it as soon as you know you have it—but how long does it last?
The symptoms of the flu
Fever, cough, runny nose and fatigue can last for a week or more. The hallmark feature of a cold — congestion — usually lasts around 10 days.
But both can feel longer than they actually are because there is no cure for either one. The best you can do to get over them is to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Most doctors recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to help with fever and aches and pains,
but there’s little proof that these over-the-counter drugs shorten either illness; some studies suggest they might prolong it slightly by interfering with your body’s natural ability to fight off infections on its own.
The most common treatments for the flu
To treat your flu symptoms, take over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others).
You can also use other drugs like chlophedianol (Tessalon Perles), guaiacol glycerin, guaiacol and isopropyl alcohol in a 2% solution.
These are most effective when you begin taking them within two days of when you first feel symptoms. But don’t wait to start these medications; you still may be able to help relieve your flu symptoms if you start taking them even later in your illness.
If necessary, ask your doctor about prescription medications that may help ease your symptoms.
When to see a doctor about the flu?
One to two days. The flu can be nasty, but it usually clears up on its own in a few days.
If you’re having trouble breathing, your fever has lasted more than three days, or your symptoms get worse instead of better within three days, it’s time to call a doctor.
Those who have chronic health conditions like asthma or congestive heart failure are at greater risk for hospitalization from influenza complications. People with compromised immune systems should seek medical attention immediately if they start showing flu-like symptoms as well.
Getting rid of the flu faster
The good news is that flu symptoms tend to clear up in a week or so. In fact, most cases are gone within a week after symptoms first show up. But unfortunately, you’re not out of the woods yet: You could still be contagious for as long as two weeks after your symptoms start.
When should you see a doctor? Most experts recommend waiting until at least one week has passed since your symptoms started and then visiting your primary care provider (PCP) or other qualified health care professional.
Your doctor can assess how sick you are and determine if you need antiviral drugs to help stop any further spread of illness.
When will I feel better again?
The length of time it takes for you to start feeling better depends on a few different factors. First and foremost, how sick you were at your worst has a lot to do with how long it will take you to feel better again. For example,
if you have a mild case of influenza (flu), then it could be just one or two days before you start to feel normal again. On the other hand,
if you are in bed for three or four days straight because of severe vomiting and diarrhoea, then it may take up to a week before you begin to feel like yourself again
What can I do to avoid getting sick next time?
Getting sick can be devastating. While being sick is never a pleasant experience, we usually do everything we can to avoid it.
To avoid getting sick next time, you’ll need to understand how it happens in order to best protect yourself. When you feel like you are coming down with something, there are a few basic steps that you can take