How long does the flu last?

No one likes being sick. We take our vitamins, get our flu shots. But sometimes the flu still comes and puts us down for the count, no matter what we do to avoid it. And with the 2018 flu season hitting especially hard, it’s best to know upfront how long the flu might last once you’re infected.

According to Health Harvard Publishing, symptoms of the respiratory virus show up roughly one to four days after you’re exposed. While getting the flu shot and having a healthy immune system — and supplementing regular meds with all-natural home remedies — might help lessen the severity and duration of your illness, you’ll still have to deal with symptoms like fever, stomach issues (including nausea and diarrhea — yuck!), body aches, and fatigue.

Once those pesky side effects show up, the flu generally lasts one to seven days. Even after the majority of symptoms go away, you may still feel tired and generally run-down for awhile after that. Certain groups of people, like children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing chronic illness such as asthma or diabetes, have a greater risk of influenza complications.

Dr. Megha Tewari broke down the estimated duration of flu symptoms for Reader’s Digest:

  • Stomach issues: one to three days
  • Headache: one to three days
  • Body aches: three to five days
  • Fever: three to seven days
  • Fatigue: one to two weeks
  • Coughing: one to two weeks

That pretty much sounds like the worst.

If you start to feel sick, it’s best to visit a doctor to rule out other maladies like period flu. (Yes, it exists.) Depending on your circumstances, you might be prescribed Tamiflu or another antiviral drug, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Otherwise, it’s recommended you drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and use over-the-counter pain relievers like Aleve or Tylenol.

Whatever you do, stay home so you don’t infect others. Though influenza is common and easily treatable, it can trigger septic shock in those with weakened immune symptoms. And if you’re not sick, wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when you’re out and about — that’s a main way germs are spread.

Feel better!

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