How Long Does a Flu Last? Here’s What You Should Know

A sick woman lying on the sofa covered in a blanket and blowing her nose next to a table with a cup of water and medicine on it.

It’s officially cold and flu season. 

With the colder weather upon us, it seems easier to spread germs from one person to another while we spend more time indoors. 

According to the CDC, even with the widespread availability and recommendation to get a flu vaccine, an estimated 9 million to 41 million people become infected annually. 

While the vaccine is an excellent deterrent against the flu and severe symptoms, it does not guarantee complete protection. 

So, if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of the flu, it is essential to understand precisely how long the flu lasts so you know what to expect. 

Let’s dive deeper into understanding the flu, including how long it lasts. 

What Is the Flu?

On average, about 8% of the U.S. population contracts the flu yearly. Most of us can identify the symptoms, but what is the flu, and what causes it?

Formally known as influenza, the flu is a contagious respiratory virus that can infect a person’s nose, throat, and lungs. The flu can be caused by the influenza A or B viruses.

It is spread from one person to another by tiny droplets in the air from coughing, talking, or sneezing. 

Symptoms range from mild to severe and can even lead to death in rare cases, especially for immunocompromised patients.

Those at increased risk of the flu and its complications include

  • Children
  • People 65 or older
  • People with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes
  • Pregnant women
  • People with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more


The flu causes a wide array of symptoms that can range from mild to severe and include

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

How Long Does a Flu Last?

For the flu, symptom onset averages around 2 days but can range from 1 to 4 days.

According to the CDC, the flu can last a few days to less than 2 weeks, depending on the overall health of the infected person. 

On average, the flu lasts about 7 days total from symptom onset. 

Flu Treatment

Most people with the flu recover on their own, but there are various ways to help control symptoms at home, including

  • OTC pain relievers for bad headaches
  • Proper and consistent hydration with clear liquids
  • Adequate rest
  • Fever reducers 
  • OTC anti-inflammatories and decongestants
  • Throat lozenges 
  • OTC saline nasal drops or spray 
  • A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier

Antiviral medication may be prescribed in more severe cases to control the severity of your flu symptoms. 

Compassionate and Experienced Flu Care in Houma

If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with the flu, we are here to help.

Visit our urgent care facility in Houma today to get your flu symptoms thoroughly examined. You shouldn’t have to live with unrelenting symptoms that last longer than a couple of weeks.

Our urgent care facility is open daily with no appointments necessary; walk in to receive medical attention for the flu and start feeling relief from your symptoms today.

You should seek immediate emergency medical treatment for any life-threatening, flu-like symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pains, or high fever now.

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