How Long Does The Flu Last

Just How Long Does The Flu Last?

You start feeling a few flu like symptoms and your first though may we be how long does the flu last and what are you facing. We've all heard of or experienced the 24-hour flu. These short episodes are normally not terribly severe, and usually seem to be cured by a good night of sleep. The flu, or influenza, can be very severe at times, and its duration can be much longer than 24 hours. Unless we have chronic respiratory problems, or are in otherwise not in the best of health, the onset of influenza normally doesn't trouble us too much beyond being an inconvenience. If you are not in the best of health, the chances are greater of the virus spreading from the mouth and throat into the lungs, a much more serious situation.

It the symptoms don't go away in a day or two, or steadily worsen, then there is a valid cause for concern. Our cause for concern intensifies when there is a serious outbreak of the disease, or there is a threat of an epidemic or pandemic. Recently we have had to keep a watchful eye out for the swine flu and the bird flu, ever mindful of the Spanish flu, which caused over 30 million deaths worldwide in the course of a year. Fortunately, we have not had a repeat of the Spanish flu in nearly 90 years, but more recent Asian and Hong Kong flu outbreaks have still resulted in thousands of deaths. As far as epidemics are concerned, asking how long does the flu last is a perfectly valid question, as the longer its duration, the more at risk we tend to become as our defenses weaken. One of the problems we face with influenza is that the virus causing the disease tends to mutate over time. So our immune system, normally very effective against certain virus infections, is often a little late in gearing up to the newest version. By the time your immune system is up to speed, you've already began to experience runny nose, sore throat, coughing, chills, and perhaps a rise in temperature.


If you ask your doctor how long does the flu last, and it is not a particularly severe case, he or she will probably tell you "about 4 days". That is a typical duration for most flu cases outside of the 24-hour varieties. It's important to note, that while you are experiencing the symptoms, you are contagious, and capable of infecting others. The virus spreads through the air, so coughing is the primary means of infecting others or catching the flu from others. Just being in a room with someone who has the flu isn't apt to do you harm, unless of course they start coughing. You can take antiviral medicines which will prevent the flu or shorten the duration if taken in time, and of course getting an annual flu shot will help in most cases.

Just being in good health isn't always enough to prevent you from being caught up in an outbreak of influenza. Even taking an antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu won't guarantee you'll escape the virus.  Practicing good hygiene will certainly decrease your chances of getting the flu, and perhaps decrease you chances of getting a severe case of the flu. But if you are in good health, and you take all the precautions you can think of, but still come down with the flu, make certain to see your doctor within the first 48 hours if the symptoms are at all severe. Then if you ask how long does the flu last, the answer is apt to be a few days, and not a few weeks. There are things you just cannot totally prevent, but can still keep the severity at a minimum.