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How Long Does Influenza Virus Last? One Article to Know


The flu season has arrived, it brings us a viral respiratory illness notorious for its sudden onset of symptoms and potential to cause widespread discomfort. Afflicting millions worldwide each year, this infectious disease presents a spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild to severe, often disrupting daily routines and causing significant distress. 
While how long does the flu last? It's necessary to understand the duration of the flu is essential for individuals seeking relief and for implementing preventive measures to curb its spread.

How Long Does Influenza Virus Last?
What Is the Influenza?

Before we know how long does the flu last, let's learn what is the influenza first. Influenza, colloquially referred to as the flu, is a highly contagious respiratory illness primarily caused by viruses that infiltrate and infect the respiratory system, encompassing the nose, throat, and lungs. This viral infection manifests across a spectrum of severity, ranging from mild to severe, inducing an array of flu-like symptoms. These symptoms typically include fever or a sensation of feverishness accompanied by chills, although not everyone afflicted with the flu experiences a high temperature. Additionally, individuals may suffer from a persistent cough, a sore throat, a runny or congested nose, as well as muscle or body aches and headaches. The influenza virus is responsible for instigating these distressing symptoms, which can vary in intensity and duration. The flu commonly emerges during the colder months, triggering widespread illness within populations—a phenomenon recognized as an epidemic—due to increased susceptibility and easier transmission among people.

How Long Can a Flu Virus Last?

For the majority of healthy individuals, the flu typically constitutes a brief yet discomforting illness that self-resolves as the immune system combats the virus. Symptoms usually manifest within one to four days following exposure to the virus and generally persist for five to seven days. Those who have received a flu shot may experience milder or shorter symptoms. However, for some individuals, symptoms may endure for a more extended period. Even after symptoms diminish, persistent fatigue might linger.


Certain demographics face a higher risk of flu-related complications, notably:

Infants and young children
Individuals aged 65 and above
People managing chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease, HIV, or diabetes
Pregnant women
Individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher

How Does the Flu Spread?

Flu transmission primarily occurs through person-to-person contact via respiratory droplets emitted from coughs and sneezes. When an infected individual coughs or sneezes, these droplets can be propelled through the air and land on the mouths or noses of nearby individuals, facilitating the spread of influenza viruses. Moreover, the virus can be transmitted when a person touches respiratory droplets on surfaces or objects and then touches their own mouth or nose before properly washing their hands. It's important to note that linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by sick individuals don't require separate cleaning, but should not be shared without thorough washing. Linens like bed sheets and towels should be washed with household laundry soap at a high temperature and not hugged prior to washing to prevent self-contamination. Hands should be washed immediately after handling dirty laundry, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub if unavailable. Eating utensils can be cleaned in a dishwasher or washed by hand using water and soap.


The flu is highly contagious, with most healthy adults capable of infecting others starting one day before symptoms appear and continuing up to 5-7 days after falling ill. Children may spread the virus for even longer. Symptoms usually manifest between one to four days after exposure. This means individuals may unknowingly pass on the flu before recognizing their own illness, as well as during the symptomatic phase. Some individuals can harbor the flu virus without displaying any symptoms, yet they remain contagious, potentially spreading the virus to others during this asymptomatic period.

How to Relieve Flu Symptoms?

If you or your family get the flu, don't panic, here are 9 things you or your family can do to relieve flu symptoms:

  1. Rest and isolation: Take time off from work or school, prioritize rest, and avoid spreading the virus to others.
  2. Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juices, and soups to keep the respiratory system hydrated and aid in loosening mucus.
  3. Manage fever and discomfort: Use doctor-recommended over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen to address fever and body aches.
  4. Address cough: Adults can use expectorants, while caution is needed with cough or cold medicine for children under 4.
  5. Steam inhalation: Sit in a steam-filled bathroom to help alleviate congestion.
  6. Use a humidifier: Moistening the air can ease congestion and coughs; ensure to clean the device regularly to prevent mold growth.
  7. Soothing lozenges: Try lozenges to moisten and soothe a scratchy throat, potentially reducing coughing.
  8. Saline solution: Use saline nose drops or sprays to clear nasal passages and relieve congestion, safe for both adults and children.
  9. Consider antiviral medications: If at high risk for complications, consult a doctor promptly for antiviral drugs to potentially lessen and shorten the flu's duration.

Check If You Have Flu

To check if you might have flu, you can base on the following indications to justify, and also you can use an at-home influenza test kit to directly have a right answer:

how long does the flu last

a sudden high temperature
an aching body
feeling tired or exhausted
a dry cough
a sore throat
a headache
difficulty sleeping
loss of appetite
diarrhoea or tummy pain
feeling sick and being sick

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