Many sources treat the common cold and the flu as interchangeable terms, but the flu is frequently more severe than the common cold. Although most people with the flu recover in about a week, if complications arise, the sickness can persist longer.
For several days, a person with the flu may be unable to work, conduct home activities, or care for children. Some people get severe symptoms and may need to be admitted to the hospital.
We’ll go over how long the flu normally lasts, a chronology of the most common symptoms, and when to see a doctor for treatment in this post.
When to consult your doctor
People should aim to contact a doctor within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, as this is when antiviral medications are most effective.
It’s also important to contact a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve after 7 days or if you develop new ones, such as ear pain.
If you are experiencing any of the following people, you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Breathing becomes hard or difficult.
- Muscle pain is intolerable or severe enough to make walking impossible.
- A fever of more than 104°F develops in a youngster.
- When a child or infant breathes, they produce loud noises or pull on the muscles around their ribcage.
- A person has seizures, loss of consciousness, confusion, or inability to speak properly .
- A fever occurs in a newborn under the age of 12 weeks.
- Chronic medical issues cause symptoms to worsen.
- The dizziness is severe and does not subside after a few hours.
- A person stops urinating or only urinates once in a while.
- Symptoms improve for a while, then return and become worse.
Symptoms normally continue 3–7 days in people who do not develop major flu complications. Some people notice that their symptoms improve and then deteriorate, or that they are worse at specific times of day, such as in the morning.
Although the fever and the most severe symptoms usually go away within a week, some people can have poor energy for up to two weeks, and a cough can last up to eight weeks.
The flu vaccination lessens but does not eliminate the risk of acquiring the flu. People who catch the flu after getting a vaccination, on the other hand, tend to have milder symptoms that linger for a shorter amount of time.
Antiviral medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu) can also help to shorten the duration of the flu and reduce the risk of catastrophic consequences.
Symptoms may continue longer in infants and young children, older individuals, and people with respiratory disorders. These people are also more likely to develop significant flu symptoms including pneumonia and breathing problems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu causes roughly 200,000 people in the United States to visit the hospital each year.
Complications from the flu are unlikely to go away on their own and can turn into a medical emergency. It is possible that they will necessitate a person to stay in the hospital. A person’s recovery from acute flu complications might take weeks or even months.
Timeline, signs and symptoms
Unlike the symptoms of the common cold and other viruses, which appear gradually, flu symptoms appear suddenly. A person may go from feeling normal to having a fever and other symptoms in a few of hours.
With the flu, a high temperature is more likely than with a cold, and it generally emerges before other symptoms.
The following are the most common flu symptoms:
- a dry cough
- a sore throat
- muscle aches
- a headache
- weakness and extreme exhaustion
- high fever
Between days 2 and 4, the symptoms usually peak. Some people start to feel better by day five. Only a few people are able to return to work or education.
After a fever has broken, however, it is important to stay at home for the next 24 hours. Stay at home if your temperature is only relieved by anti-fever medicines.
On day 7, the majority of people are feeling much better, however some are still sick. It’s very uncommon for the flu to last more than a week, so a prolonged recovery isn’t always a bad thing. However, if the symptoms persist after a week, it’s probably advisable to contact a doctor.
An antiviral flu medicine is the finest and most effective treatment for the flu. Taking this medication within two days after becoming ill may help to decrease the duration of the flu and prevent complications.
Before using any anti-flu medicine, a person should consult with a doctor to assess the risks and benefits. Because some people encounter adverse effects when using anti-flu medications, it’s important to notify your doctor about any previous health problems or drug responses.
Antibiotics are ineffective against the flu. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, and the flu is a virus.
Some people, however, acquire secondary illnesses as a result of the flu. Ear infections are more common in children, but they can also affect adults. If your symptoms suddenly alter or worsen, it could be a sign of a new infection, either viral or bacterial.
How to aid recovery
The strategies listed below can aid in the healing process:
- Staying in bed and resting.
- Avoid going to work, school, or anywhere else because the flu can be spread.
- Drinking a lot of water. To avoid dehydration, take an electrolyte drink if you have a fever or vomiting.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Hand washing should be done often to prevent the infection from spreading to other family members.
The majority of people who catch the flu will experience symptoms for 3 to 7 days. If difficulties arise, they may be hospitalised for a longer period of time.
Every year, the flu kills thousands of people. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are all more susceptible to flu complications. People who have the flu should rest and stay away from public places until their symptoms subside.
Even major issues can be recovered with rest and medical attention. Anyone experiencing severe flu symptoms should seek medical attention. Every year, a person can obtain a flu shot to lower their risk of contracting the virus.