(2), As the illness progresses, a person may have warm, flushed skin, watery or bloodshot eyes, a severe cough that produces phlegm, and nasal congestion. As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. For most healthy people, the flu is an uncomfortable but short-term illness that resolves itself as the immune system fights it off. And they may help reduce the amount of time the flu lasts if you do become infected with the virus. According to the CDC, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in children and the elderly than other human influenza subtypes or strains, such as influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B. Additionally, vaccine effectiveness for influenza A (H3N2) viruses has been generally lower. Few common illnesses are more unpleasant than the flu. For people who've had a flu shot, the symptoms may last a shorter amount of time, or be less severe. “They confuse it with the common cold. The NCCIH adds that zinc can cause nausea and gastrointestinal issues, and that it can interact with other medication, such as antibiotics. Most flu symptoms will typically resolve within a week. Get trusted advice from the doctors at Harvard Medical School, Learn tips for living a healthy lifestyle, Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in health, Receive special offers on health books and reports. Stay at home while you’re sick and for at least 24 hours after your fever has gone down. They don’t kill the influenza virus, however. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an uncomplicated influenza infection will last from three to seven days in most people, including children. What can we help you find? (3), 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. For most healthy people, the flu is an uncomfortable but short-term illness that resolves itself as the immune system fights it off. The Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating, Improving Memory: Understanding Age-Related Memory Loss. Please note: If you have a promotional code you'll be prompted to enter it prior to confirming your order. How long does the flu last? If you’re sick, be sure to drink plenty of liquids and get plenty of rest. (7), Getting vaccinated every year is important to lower your likelihood of getting the flu. There is no cure for a cold, the CDC says — it will get better on its own. Try eating a healthy dinner a bit later in the evening. (2), Learn More About the Differences Between a Cold and the Flu, Cold symptoms can differ from person to person, but they generally appear about one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. © 1996-2020 Everyday Health, Inc. Antiviral medications must be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms in order to be effective. Both articles and products will be searched. But there are differences in the onset, severity, and duration of the typical cold or bout of influenza. Nausea and vomiting may also occur, especially among children, according to the Merck Manual. A study published in March 2017 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases confirmed that immunity declines over the months following vaccination or infection. Even when symptoms resolve, you may continue to feel fatigued. 10 Simple and Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System. (4), A bout of the flu typically lasts for several days or occasionally weeks, with severe symptoms subsiding in two to three days. Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough, Airway irritation that affects how long you can be active, Loss of sense of smell, which in rare cases becomes permanent (6). With some viral illnesses, once you have been infected with it or have been vaccinated against it, you’re immune for life. If you find yourself snacking at night before bed, it may be because you're bored or anxious — not truly hungry — and eating makes you feel better. (3) A cold may last longer or be more severe in people who have chronic health issues. The most common cold symptoms include fatigue, sore or scratchy throat, nasal congestion or stuffiness, and a runny nose, followed by sneezing and coughing. Flu symptoms typically last about one week, but may linger for some people. A bout of the flu typically lasts for several days or occasionally weeks, with severe symptoms subsiding in two to three days. The Ultimate Guide to Health and Happiness, Long-Acting Injectable 9 Times More Effective Than Daily Pill in Preventing HIV in Women, Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer 2020: Pushing the Boundaries of Cancer Treatment, Tippi Coronavirus: Tips for Living With COVID-19. Disclaimer: Flu symptoms usually last 3–7 days. Androgens, the family of male sex hormones that includes testosterone, function as a fuel for growth in normal development. Additionally, flu infection may make preexisting conditions worse. The flu—or influenza—is a highly contagious respiratory virus caused by one of three different virus types: influenza A, B, or C. The main way that illnesses like colds and the flu spread from person to person is through the droplets that sick people propel when they cough and sneeze. For other people, the symptoms may last longer. Take pain relievers to lower your fever and relieve the aches, such as: If you are at high risk of complications, and if it is early in the infection, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug for treating flu, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu, generic versions). Some people are at increased risk for complications from influenza. How long does the flu last? People over the age of 65 are encouraged to get a high-dose flu vaccine that contains four times the amount of antigen as the standard inoculation. Symptoms usually appear from one to four days after exposure to the virus, and they last five to seven days.