How Long Does the Flu Last?
Usually, influenza lasts three to five days. If it goes on for more than a week or if the symptoms are very severe, you are advised to consult your doctor.
A bad case of influenza has the potential to develop into a more serious condition like pneumonia or sinus trouble, and in rare cases it can be life-threatening.
It lasts until your body’s immune system can fight it off. If you have a weak immune system, it will last longer.
If cold symptoms do not seem to be improving after a week, you may have a bacterial infection, which means you may need antibiotics.
Sometimes you may mistake cold symptoms for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or a sinus infection. If your cold symptoms begin quickly and are improving after a week, then it is usually a cold, not allergy. If your cold symptoms do not seem to be getting better after a week, check with your doctor to see if you have developed an allergy or sinusitis.
Elderly people and anyone with certain long-term medical conditions are more likely to have a bad case of flu, and are also more likely to develop a serious complication such as a chest infection.
In the UK, about 600 people a year die from a complication of seasonal flu. This rises to around 13,000 during an epidemic.
Uncomplicated influenza illness typically resolves after 3-7 days for the majority of persons, although cough and malaise can persist for 2 weeks. However, influenza virus infections can cause primary influenza viral pneumonia; exacerbate underlying medical conditions (e.g., pulmonary or cardiac disease); lead to secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinusitis, or otitis media; or contribute to co-infections with other viral or bacterial pathogens.
More About Flu Symptoms
For most people, the flu lasts anywhere from about three days to two weeks. If it lasts much longer than two weeks, you may have developed a secondary infection or one of these common flu complications.
If you have had symptoms for less than 48 hours, you may want to contact your health care provider to see if antiviral medications would be right for you and your symptoms. For some people, they can help shorten the severity and duration of the flu.
Additionally, if you had your flu shot this flu season and you still get the flu, your symptoms will probably be less severe than they would have been had you not had the flu vaccine.