What To Expect With The Flu
Symptoms of the flu hit very quickly and may last several weeks. A bout of the flu typically follows this pattern:
- Days 13: Sudden appearance of fever, headache, muscle pain and weakness, dry cough, sore throat and sometimes a stuffy nose.
- Day 4: Fever and muscle aches decrease. Hoarse, dry or sore throat, cough and possible mild chest discomfort become more noticeable. You may feel tired or flat.
- Day 8: Symptoms decrease. Cough and tiredness may last one to two weeks or more.
How Fast Do Flu Symptoms Appear
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What Are The Stages Of The Flu
Flu symptoms usually start within one to four days after infection. Unlike a common cold, the effects of an influenza virus infection can come on very suddenly.
The first signs of the flu are often a fever or chills, accompanied by headache, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, muscle aches, and fatigue.
As the illness progresses, a person may have warm, flushed skin, watery or bloodshot eyes, a severe cough that produces phlegm, and nasal congestion. Nausea and vomiting may also occur, especially among children, according to the Merck Manual.
A bout of the flu typically lasts for several days or occasionally weeks, with severe symptoms subsiding in two to three days. However, weakness, fatigue, dry cough, and a reduced ability to exercise can linger for six to eight weeks.
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How Long Is The Incubation Period Of The Flu
There’s no exact time frame that’s the same for every person with the flu but, in general, the CDC says that the incubation period of the flu can range between one and four days, with the average length of time being two days.
People with the flu are the most contagious the first three to four days after they were infected, per the CDC, which can coincide with the incubation period. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others starting the day before they show symptoms, and continue to be infectious up to seven days after they become sick, the CDC adds.
“People have the flu and are out and about doing their regular stuff, coming into contact with others before they get sick,” Dr. Boling says. “You can infect plenty of people during that time.”
When To See Your Gp
Consider visiting your GP if:
- you’re 65 years of age or over
- you’re pregnant
- you have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease or a neurological disease
- you have a weakened immune system for example because you’re having chemotherapy or have HIV
- you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or start coughing up blood
- your symptoms are getting worse over time or haven’t improved after a week
In these situations, you may need medication to treat or prevent complications of flu. Your GP may recommend taking antiviral medicine to reduce your symptoms and help you recover more quickly.
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Preventing The Flu After Exposure
Although there are various products and remedies that may claim to help prevent illness once you’ve been exposed to the flu, none of them have proven to be effective. Your best bet to prevent the flu is to get your annual flu vaccine. Although it’s not 100 percent effective at preventing the flu, it gives you a much better chance of avoiding the illness than anything else.
If you are exposed to someone with the flu, avoid close contact with the person and wash your hands frequently.
- Vitamin C: Although vitamin C is widely used and has many benefits, there is no scientific proof that it will help you avoid an illness such as the flu or a cold.
- Humidifiers: Evidence suggests that viruses such as the cold and flu spread more easily in cold, dry air. This is one of the reasons that they’re more common during the winter. Running a humidifier in your home during the winter can help keep your nasal passages moist. And while there’s no guarantee that this will prevent you from getting sick, it can’t hurt .
- Antiviral medications: If you’re at high risk for complications from the flu and you know you were exposed to it, talk to your healthcare provider about taking antiviral medications. It can help prevent influenza in some people and will reduce the severity of the symptoms in those who do get it.
How Can I Protect Myself And Others From Flu And Covid
Luckily, steps taken to prevent COVID-19 also help prevent the spread of flu. These include:
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth
- Practice physical distancing
- Wash your hands often
- Disinfect high-touch areas frequently
We also recommend a seasonal flu shot to all people age 6 months and up in order to lower your risk of influenza infection by up to 60%.
If you do end up getting the flu, the vaccination can help prevent you from developing a serious case. Because the flu shot decreases your risk of getting influenza, youre also helping to lower the risk of your friends and family getting the infection, including people at high risk, such as those with chronic conditions.
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What Stops The Flu From Spreading
There are multiple ways to avoid getting and spreading the flu. Here are some of the best ways:
- Washing your hands often: This will help protect you from any germs that could make their way into your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you cannot wash your hands with soapy water, then hand sanitizer is the next best thing.
- Avoiding close contact with sick people: Trying your best to stay away from sick people will help keep you from catching the flu. If youre sick with the flu, limiting your contact with other people will keep you from spreading the flu.
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing: When youre sick with the flu and cough or sneeze, tiny droplets containing the flu virus can travel through the air and infect other people. Covering your mouth and nose is a great way to help stop this.
- Wearing a face mask: The protection you get from face masks isnt exclusive to coronavirus. A face mask can protect you from the common cold and flu too.
- Staying up to date on vaccinations: Getting a flu shot is one of the best ways to prevent the flu. Flu vaccines have been proven to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and flu-related deaths.
How Long Are You Contagious
Youre generally contagious a few days before your symptoms start, and you may be contagious for as long as you have symptoms. Youre most likely to spread the virus in the first 2 to 3 days when the symptoms peak.
If youre sick, stay home from work or school. If your child is sick, keep them out of daycare or school. Avoid close contact with others, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
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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.
Are You Too Sick To Work
First and foremost, consider whether you are putting yourself or others at risk if you go to work. You’re putting others at risk if you or your children have a contagious illness . You’re putting yourself at risk if the symptoms of your condition, or the side effects of medication, could cause you to have an accident on the job, injure others, or produce devastating mistakes in your work product. Putting anyone in harm’s way is a clear reason to stay home.
For both the cold and the flu, early symptoms may be similar. Symptoms and signs include a cough, runny nose, and feeling tired. If you know you have had contact with someone with a cold or the flu in the past few days, you should suspect you may have become infected. However, flu symptoms generally are more intense than cold symptoms. People with flu can develop fever, body aches, chills, and headaches, and some develop nausea and vomiting. Cold symptoms are much milder and usually do not require medical care. However, if you suspect you have the flu, you should seek medical care. The flu often can be diagnosed with rapid tests available to most physicians.
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People At Higher Risk From Flu
Anyone can get sick with flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to flu can happen to anyone at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions , pregnant people and children younger than 5 years, but especially those younger than 2 years old.
Managing Your Symptoms At Home
If you’re otherwise healthy, you can look after yourself at home by resting, keeping warm and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
If you’re concerned about coronavirus , be mindful of our ibuprofen advice on the coronavius page.
If you feel unwell and have a fever, you can take paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen to lower your temperature and relieve aches. Children under 16 shouldn’t be given aspirin.
Stay off work or school until you’re feeling better. For most people, this will take about a week. See your GP if your symptoms get worse or last longer than a week.
Read the page on preventing flu for more information about stopping the infection spreading to others.
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How Is The Flu Diagnosed
Often, how a child looks is enough for health care providers to diagnose the flu. Kids who have it usually look ill and miserable.
Other infections can cause symptoms similar to the flu. So if health care providers need to be sure that someone has influenza, they might do a test. They’ll take a sample of mucus by wiping a long cotton swab inside the nose or throat. Results might be ready quickly, or can take longer if the test is sent to a lab.
Can The Same Home Remedies And Medicine Be Used For Both Cold And Flu
There is no cure for a cold, the CDC says it will get better on its own. But prescription antiviral drugs may help with the flu, especially when taken within two days of the onset of symptoms. People with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease that put them at at high risk for flu complications should seek treatment right away.
As for home remedies, there is evidence that zinc, taken by mouth in the form of lozenges, tablets, or syrups, can help reduce the length of colds if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health . The NCCIH adds that zinc can cause nausea and gastrointestinal issues, and that it can interact with other medication, such as antibiotics.
There is no strong scientific evidence that any natural product can cure the flu, says the NCCIH.
Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are effective treatments for fever and aches caused by either a cold or the flu. People with either illness should also be sure to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Additional reporting by Pamela Kaufman.
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How Long After Exposure To Flu Do Symptoms Appear
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Difference Between Flu And Covid
The symptoms of COVID-19 and flu can be similar.
If you are unwell with flu-like symptoms, contact the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398 or your GP to check if you require COVID-19 testing.
The symptoms to watch out for are:
- loss or changein sense of smell or taste
Some people may also experience headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
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What If You Have Covid
If you have COVID-19, do the following:
- Stay home and only leave to receive medical care.
- Try to separate yourself as much as possible from others in your household.
- Wear a mask when you need to be around other people.
- Take care of yourself by staying hydrated or taking over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms.
- Monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if they begin to get worse.
According to the , you can be around others again if all of the following are true:
- Its been at least 10 days since your symptoms started.
- Youve gone 24 hours with no fever .
- Your other symptoms have started to improve.
Key Points About The Flu In Children
Influenza is a very contagious viral infection of the respiratory system.
It causes a high fever, body aches, a cough, and other symptoms.
Most children are ill with the flu for less than a week. But some children have a more serious illness and may need to be treated in the hospital. The flu may also lead to lung infection or death.
The flu may be treated with acetaminophen, cough medicine, and antiviral medicine. Your child will also need lots of rest and drinking plenty of fluids.
The best way to prevent flu is to have the yearly flu vaccine. Because the viruses change, researchers create a new flu vaccine each year to help protect against strains of the virus that are currently active. The vaccine is advised for all children 6 months and older.
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What Are The Common Cold Stages And Symptoms
Colds and cold symptoms tend to follow a certain progression, which is outlined below. This is the typical pattern, but its possible that youll experience the timing and stages slightly differently.
Incubation: After youre exposed to a cold virus, it typically takes 1 to 3 days for you to develop symptoms. However, its possible to develop symptoms as soon as 10 to 12 hours after exposure.
Symptoms peak: Cold symptoms peak at 1 to 3 days. The main symptoms include sore throat, stuffy nose, runny nose, cough, discomfort, sneezing, fever , headaches, clear, watery discharge from your nose , and body aches.
Symptoms level off and fade: Cold symptoms usually last anywhere from 3 to 10 days. After 2 or 3 days of symptoms, the mucus discharged from your nose may change to a white, yellow, or green color. This is normal and does not mean you need an antibiotic.
10 days and beyond: Lingering symptoms can last up to 2 weeks in some people, especially runny nose, stuffy nose, and coughing. However, you should be on the mend at this point, and the symptoms probably wont be as bad.
You Can Infect Others Even If You Don’t Have Symptoms
You may be infected but not have symptoms. However, you can still spread the virus to others. You may:
- develop symptoms later
- never develop symptoms
Follow the advice of your local public health authority on quarantine or isolation if you:
- dont have symptoms but have been exposed to someone who has or who may have COVID-19
- have tested positive
Vaccination efforts continue to increase vaccine coverage and lower community transmission. Even with increased coverage, continue to follow the advice of your local public health authority on the use of individual public health measures.
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