How Long Does The Flu Typically Last
According to the CDC, the flu can really wreak havoc on you, knocking you off our feet and straight into bed. The best way to prevent it is by getting the flu vaccine each year. But what if you do happen to catch it? How long does the flu last? What are the signs and flu symptoms you can expect? Get all your answers right here. .
What is influenza, aka the flu?
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can range from mild toâ¯severe. When ill with the flu, people often feel some of these flu symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
How does the flu spread?
Experts believe that influenza usually spreads through droplets that are created when those with the flu cough, sneeze, or talkâspecifically, when these droplets land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Sometimes a person can even catch the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it, and then afterward touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose.
How long does the flu last?
As harsh as the flu can be, the good news is that most people feel much better within one to two weeks.
Most healthy adults become contagious the day before symptoms develop . They remain infectious for up to five to seven days after symptoms appear. However, children and those with weakened immune systems may be contagious for an even longer period.
How can I get some relief from flu symptoms?
What Else Can Help
To make spreading the flu less likely, everyone in your family should::
- Wash hands well and often with soap, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating or preparing food
- Never pick up used tissues.
- Never share cups and eating utensils.
- Stay home from work or school if they have the flu.
- Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, then put it in the trash.
- Cough or sneeze into their upper arm, not their hands, if a tissue isn’t handy.
What Are The Stages Of A Cold
Cold symptoms can differ from person to person, but they generally appear about one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. In most cases, cold symptoms will peak within two to three days.
The signs that you have a cold usually develop slowly. The most common cold symptoms include fatigue, sore or scratchy throat, nasal congestion or stuffiness, and a runny nose, followed by sneezing and coughing. Fever is not typical with a cold, but a low-grade fever isnt out of the question, according to the Merck Manual.
The mucus discharged by a runny nose may change color over the course of the illness, starting out clear and becoming thicker, yellow, or green. Postnasal drip, in which mucus accumulates or drips in the back of the throat, can further aggravate a sore throat or cough.
Symptoms usually disappear in 4 to 10 days, although a cough often lasts into the second week. A cold may last longer or be more severe in people who have chronic health issues.
If your symptoms persist more than 10 days or keep coming back, then something else may be going on, such as allergies, sinusitis, or a secondary infection.
Fever is an important sign, says Norman Edelman, MD, a professor of preventive medicine, internal medicine, physiology, and biophysics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Long Island. Adults with a fever of 102 degrees F or higher and children with a fever of 103 degree F or higher should see a doctor.
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When Should You Contact Your Doctor
If you suspect you have the flu, then you should see the doctor within 48 hours because medicine has to be taken very quickly, Dr. Peterson says. Err on the side of caution.
Dr. Khabbaza says that if you’re unable to go about your normal routine, you should consider heading to the doctor. Also, if certain symptoms escalate, this could be an indication of flu, not just a chest cold, and you, again, should consider getting checked out ASAP.
Most viral infections, including the flu, tend to go away on their own. But be on the alert for signs of trouble such as shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, dizziness, or dehydration. If youre experiencing any of these in addition to your flu-like symptoms, call your doctor or head to an emergency room.
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Should You Go To The Er For Cold And Flu Symptoms
- Should You Go to the ER for Cold…
The common cold typically lasts between seven to 10 days, and common cold treatments are often nothing more than rest and over-the-counter symptom management medications.
When treatments for the common cold arent working and you or a loved one is experiencing flu-like symptoms, here are some reasons when your common cold symptoms could be a sign of something worse, and when you should think about heading to the ER.
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Why Am I Experiencing Dizziness With The Flu
When you are run down by a virus, your body becomes weak. Energy is diverted to the immune system from other parts of the body in order to fight infection. Your nervous system can be affected in this way, leading to dizziness.
Flu symptoms often mean that you do not feel like eating or drinking anything. However, this is usually the main cause of dizziness, particularly if you have become dehydrated. Dehydration is of greater concern if you are also suffering from diarrhoea.
Additionally, headaches can occur with the flu because of dilating or contracting blood vessels. Disruption to blood flow in the head can cause such symptoms of dizziness. Again, dehydration will contribute to these feelings.
Getting Better Before Getting Worse
Another important sign that can help you or a loved one determine if you need to visit the ER is when treatment for severe colds may make you feel better initially, but flu-like symptoms return. If your fever broke and returned after a few days, chest pain starts to come back or you are unable to hold down food after youve been able to eat normally, it might be a sign that stronger influenza treatment is necessary.
If at any point you or a loved one also is experiencing any symptoms of severe hydration, including extreme thirst, confusion, dark-colored urine and dizziness, seek medical treatment immediately.
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Youre Taking The Wrong Things For It
Weâve all heard about some of the more popular herbal remedies: Drink this and youâll never get sick again. Take that and your cold symptoms will be shortened by 3 days. Many of these claims donât hold water, and itâs important to remember that just because the bottle says “herbal” doesnât mean it canât harm you.
Echinacea is one of the first natural treatments people suggest when you have a cold, but most studies show it just doesnât work.
Many people down vitamin C like candy thinking itâll speed up the cold process. But thereâs little evidence that it helps shorten a cold once you have it. And the only folks it really seems to work for are extreme athletes who take it to prevent getting a cold.
Zinc also gets called out for helping end your cold, but again the evidence is weak. And some people who used a nasal spray with zinc lost their sense of smell. So your best bet is to leave it on the shelf.
It isnât just natural treatments that donât work for colds. Antibiotics wonât help either, because a virus causes these illnesses. The best way to treat your cold is to manage the symptoms. Save the antibiotics for strep throat or a sinus infection.
Care Advice For Influenza
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The Symptoms And Stages Of The Flu
Exposure to the flu happens when you breathe in the virus from the air. This can occur when someone with the flu has coughed, sneezed, or breathed near you. Exposure may also happen if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching something with the virus on it. Heres what happens in your body after youre exposed.
What About Flu Complications
In some cases of the flu, severe illness, and complications can develop. This can result in hospitalisation and even death.
The flu can also make some existing medical conditions worse.
People at higher risk of severe complications associated with the flu include:
- pregnant women
- people with chronic medical conditions.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Cold
Cold symptoms come on gradually and are milder than symptoms of the flu. Symptoms commonly include:
- Mild fever
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
Cold symptoms typically last for about a week. However, youre contagious during the first few days, so stay home, get plenty of fluids and be sure to rest.
Most colds are caused by a virus, which antibiotics wont treat. Its best to get plenty of rest, fluids and use over-the-counter medicines to help manage symptoms, says Dr. Martin.
If your symptoms last longer than a week, check with your healthcare provider to rule out an allergy or bacterial infection.
Im A Doctor And Heres What Everyone On Tiktok Asks About Covid
The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits’ arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
Infection rates are high – with daily cases breaking records – so if you feel at all unwell, there is a good chance it is Covid.
In the past four days, between 75,000 and 96,000 new cases of Covid have been diagnosed every day.
While estimates say that 67 per cent of these are Omicron, only around 37,000 have been confirmed through genetic testing.
Follow our Covid live blog for all the latest news & stories
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What Is The Home Treatment
If you get sick with influenza, home treatment can help ease symptoms. Follow the self-care advice below:
- Get plenty of rest and stay home from work, school, daycare and running errands when you are sick
- Drink extra fluids to replace those lost from fever
- Avoid smoking and ask others not to smoke in the house
- Breathe moist air from a hot shower or from a sink filled with hot water to help clear a stuffy nose
- Anti-influenza drugs or antivirals are available by prescription, but these must be started within 48 hours of the start of your symptoms to work best. These will shorten symptoms by about 3 days if given within 12 hours and by about 1.5 days if given within 2 days of the start of symptoms
- Non-prescription cough and cold medications are available for relief of influenza symptoms but are not recommended for children under 6 years old
*Ibuprofen should not be given to children under 6 months of age without first speaking to your health care provider.
For more information on Reye Syndrome, see HealthLinkBC File #84 Reye Syndrome.
What Are The Symptoms Of Allergies
Allergy symptoms range in severity from person to person, can be stronger at certain times of the year and aren’t contagious. “For example, someone who suffers from allergies may have their worst symptoms during the summer months, when it’s hotter and plants and grasses pollinate,” says Dr. Martin. They can also be caused by normal things in your environment think pollen, dust, pet dander and mold.
Allergy symptoms can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
Like most respiratory viruses, COVID-19 can be spread person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Thats why its important to take the recommended measures to protect yourself and others by getting vaccinated, washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and staying home if youre sick, says Dr. Martin.
If you have respiratory symptoms, screen yourself. Based on your results, you can schedule a COVID test . If you test positive, call your doctor.
Its important to identify positive cases of COVID, so that we can take proactive measures in protecting our communities, says Dr. Martin.
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Similarities Between The Symptoms Of The Flu And Covid
The flu and COVID-19 are different viruses. They’re very contagious and have similar symptoms. This can make it hard to tell the difference between the flu and COVID-19 when symptoms appear.
If you start to develop symptoms, follow the same precautions taken for COVID-19.
This year is more important than ever for everyone 6 months and older to get the flu shot. This will help prevent the flu and flu-related complications. Preventing the flu will also help reduce stress on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Should I Do If I Have The Flu
If you get the flu, the best way to take care of yourself is to rest in bed and drink lots of liquids like water and other non-caffeinated drinks. Stay home from school until you feel better and your temperature has returned to normal.
Most people get better on their own after the virus runs its course. But call your doctor if you have the flu and:
- You’re getting worse instead of better.
- You have trouble breathing.
- You have a medical condition .
Most teens can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with fever and aches. Don’t take aspirin or any products that contain aspirin, though. If kids and teens take aspirin while they have the flu, it puts them at risk for Reye syndrome , which is rare but can be serious.
Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, so they won’t help someone with the flu get better. Sometimes doctors can prescribe an antiviral medicine to cut down how long a person is ill from the flu. These medicines are effective only against some types of flu virus and work best when taken within 48 hours of when symptoms start. Doctors usually use this medicine for people who are very young, elderly, or at risk for serious problems, like people with asthma.
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How Does Influenza Spread
Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing or face-to-face contact.
The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person or object and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
An infected person can spread the influenza virus even before feeling sick. An adult can spread the virus from about 1 day before to 5 days after symptoms start. Young children may be able to spread the virus for a longer period of time.
The Best Treatment Is To Take Steps To Prevent Illness
Few common illnesses are more unpleasant than the flu. The aches and pains, chills, fever, and cough are bad enough add in the other potential symptoms of flu, including runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, or sore throat, and you’ll want the illness to be over as soon as possible. How long does the flu last? And does treating flu help make it go away faster? The answers depend on your particular health.
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Prescription Antiviral Drugs For Influenza
- Antiviral drugs are sometimes used to treat influenza. They must be started within 48 hours when the flu symptoms start. After 48 hours of fever, starting the drug is not helpful.
- The AAP recommends they be used for any patient with severe symptoms.
- The AAP recommends the drugs for most High-Risk children with underlying health problems. See that list.
- The AAP doesn’t recommend antiviral drugs for Low-Risk children with mild flu symptoms.
- Their benefits are limited. They usually reduce the time your child is sick by 1 to 1.5 days. They reduce the symptoms, but do not make them go away.
- Side effects: Vomiting in 10% of children on Tamiflu.
- Most healthy children with flu do not need an antiviral drug.