How Long Does Flu Usually Last

How long does flu last? Flu, or influenza, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus. It affects the lungs, nose and throat and those in the high risk category can even die from it. High risk includes those over 65 years old, children under 3 and those with chronic sicknesses or respiratory conditions.

Initial Symptoms
Most people mistake the early symptoms of influenza with a simple cold. On the first day, people will develop a runny nose and may sneeze excessively. One way to determine whether or not it's the cold or the flu is to analyze how fast the symptoms came on. If the buildup has taken a few days, it's likely a cold. If the symptoms have come on suddenly, the flu may be the cause.

Days 2 and 3
Within another 24 hours, people may experience aches and pains, chills, fever, fatigue and a cough. By the second day, all the symptoms should be present. If people can make it to the doctor and report that they are experiencing flu symptoms, it's possible to receive an antiviral drug or flu vaccine that can shorten the duration of the disease by a day or two.

Days 4 through 6
At this stage of influenza, the couth is quite productive, bringing up plenty of phlegm and causing the muscles around the lungs to feel quite sore. The fever should be controlled with over the counter medicines, but it can still come in pretty high. Extreme fatigue is the hallmark of this phase of influenza, making bed rest mandatory in recovering. In children, diarrhea may occur at this time as well.

Day 7 and Beyond
The last day should show significant improvement in the fever and sore throat. However the coughing may linger for as long as four weeks after the initial illness. All symptoms should start clearing up, from runny nose and headaches to body aches and fatigue. Most people are back at work or school within a week of contracting influenza. Rare cases of influenza do go longer, and influenza can also trigger other diseases, such as pneumonia, which will take longer to recover from.

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