Medically reviewed by Stacy Sampson, D.O. — written by Jill Seladi-Schulman, Ph.D. — update on June 12, 2019

Flu duration

Influenza, frequently referred to together “the flu,” is a highly infectious respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus.

According to the Centers for disease Control and also Prevention (CDC), one uncomplicated influenza infection will last from three to 7 days in most people, consisting of children. However, a cough and also feelings of weak or tiredness can critical for 2 weeks or longer.

Some world are in ~ an increased risk for arising flu-related complications. These deserve to include:

These complications deserve to be due to influenza virus in chin or since of a second bacterial infection. Serious flu-related complications have the right to lead come hospitalization and also even death.

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Additionally, flu infection might make preexisting problems worse. For example, if you have asthma, you might experience more severe asthma assaults while you have actually the flu.

You’re at enhanced risk for arising flu-related symptom if you:

are 65 years old or olderare younger 보다 5 year old and particularly younger 보다 2 years oldare of indigenous American (American Indian or Alaska Native) descentare pregnant or 2 weeks postpartumare extremely obese (BMI of 40 or more)live in a nursing residence or long-term care facilityhave a weakened immune system, such together the type seen in world with cancer or HIVhave a chronic illness, such together asthma, diabetes, or COPDhave a liver or kidney disorder

Do some strains the the flu last longer than various other strains?

Although various influenza strains nothing generally impact the duration of illness, part strains (and subtypes that influenza A, favor H3N2) have the right to cause more severe disease than others.

According come the CDC, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have actually been linked with an ext hospitalizations and deaths in children and the elderly 보다 other human influenza subtypes or strains, such as influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B.

Additionally, vaccine efficiency for influenza A (H3N2) viruses has actually been usually lower.

Flu vs. Cold duration

Despite having some overlapping symptoms, colds and also the flu room two different illnesses. Colds are commonly milder 보다 the flu. Cold symptom will frequently resolve in around 7 to 10 days and also tend to no come ~ above as quick as the flu. Flu symptoms might last for a pair of weeks.

Learn an ext about the differences between a cold and the flu.

It may take one to four days after exposure come the influenza virus because that symptoms come develop.

If you have the flu, you will do it be contagious one work before arising symptoms and up to five to seven days after coming to be ill.

Younger children or people with a weakened immune system might be infectious for longer.

The influenza virus can additionally survive ~ above surfaces, such as doorknobs and tables, for up to 24 hours. Viruses live much longer on products such as stainless steel, plastic, and other tough surfaces.

To prevent transmitting the virus to others, wash your hands frequently and avoid poignant your confront or mouth.

If you’re sick, be certain to drink plenty of liquids and get lot of of rest. Girlfriend can additionally take over-the-counter pain and fever relievers, such together ibuprofen (Advil) or paracetamol (Tylenol), to assist relieve her symptoms.

Stay at house while you’re sick and for at least 24 hours after her fever has gone down.

In part cases, her doctor may prescribe one antiviral medication. Antiviral medications have the right to reduce the size of her illness and also may aid prevent complications. Castle don’t kill the influenza virus, however.

Antiviral drugs must be taken in ~ 48 hrs of the start of symptom in order to be effective.

Common antiviral prescriptions include:

zanamivir (Relenza)peramivir (Rapivab)

The U.S. Food and also Drug management (FDA) also approved a new medication called baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza) in October 2018.

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Receiving the flu vaccine can assist prevent influenza epidemic from emerging in the very first place. The vaccine won’t provide you the flu.

There isn’t existing scientific proof supporting the performance of natural commodities or home remedies against the flu.

Most flu symptom will typically resolve in ~ a week. However, the flu can reason serious symptom in groups with known risk determinants or human being who have actually preexisting conditions.

If friend or your child experience any type of of the adhering to symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:


trouble breathing or shortness that breathpressure or pain in chest or abdomendizziness the comes on suddenlyconfusionvomitingsymptoms that seem come improve, yet then return or worsen

Infants and also children

trouble breathing, or breathing quicklynot getting enough fluidsnot gift able come eatnot waking upnot connecting or not wanting to it is in heldskin it is blue in colorfever that comes through a rashfewer wet diapers than usualsymptoms the seem to improve, however then return or worsen