How Long Does Flu Last?

Uncomplicated flu typically resolves after 3-7 days for the majority of people.  However, cough and malaise (a general feeling of discomfort) can persist for more than 2 weeks, especially in elderly people and those with chronic lung disease.

A flu infection typically follows this pattern:

  • Days 1–3: 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.

For people who got their flu vaccine, the symptoms may last a shorter amount of time, or be less severe. For other people, the symptoms may last longer. Even when your flu symptoms resolve, you may continue to feel fatigued.

While colds and flu have similar symptoms, they are two distinct illnesses. Colds are usually milder than the flu. Cold symptoms will typically resolve in about 7 to 10 days and tend to not come on as suddenly as the flu. Flu symptoms may last for a couple of weeks.

People with the flu are contagious one day before developing symptoms and up to five to seven days after becoming ill. Younger children or people with a weakened immune system may be contagious for longer.

In general, different flu strains do not affect the duration of illness. However, some strains (and subtypes of influenza A, like H3N2) can cause more severe illness than others.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 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. Moreover, vaccine effectiveness for influenza A (H3N2) viruses has been generally lower.

Consult your doctor for more information on flu.

Shop at Watsons for your vitamins, supplements, prescription medications, and other essential healthcare needs. Flu and Pneumonia vaccines are also available. Check Watsons vaccination schedules now!


References:,those%20with%20chronic%20lung%20disease. Accessed 24 August 2022 Accessed 24 August 2022 Accessed 26 August 2022

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