How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults

Influenza or flu is a prevalent and infectious virus affecting around 9 million people in the US yearly. This viral infection can produce a variety of symptoms. Recognizing its occurrence and duration is critical for proper health management.

Most people confuse the flu with the common cold as they show similar symptoms. But it is important to note that they are not the same.

This guide will explore how long the flu typically lasts and give helpful information about the seasonal problem.

What is Flu?

Influenza is a contagious virus that affects your respiratory system. It has the potential to make you feel extremely ill.

What are the Types of Influenza Virus?

There are many varieties of influenza viruses, but influenza A and influenza B are the two most common. The flu virus has various types of strains. It is because this virus evolves and presents itself differently over time.

How Influenza Virus Spread?

Flu is highly spreadable and can quickly transfer from person to person. Suppose you are with someone who has the flu. Whenever the person coughs or sneezes, they release tiny droplets into the air containing the virus.

If you breathe in that air, the tiny droplets will travel to your respiratory tract, and you will get the flu.

What Parts of the Body Does the Flu Attack?

After entering your body, the flu attacks your throat, nose, and sometimes lungs. Once inside the body, it multiplies and causes symptoms.

How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults?

The flu may linger for a while but eventually passes. The exact time and duration of flu depends on the severity and part of the body it affects. Here are a few key points that can give you an idea about its stay,

Typical Duration

Harvard Health says adults often have the flu for five to seven days. The worst and most intense symptoms occur within the first 2-3 days.

Recovery Time

You will begin to feel better after the peak illness, although full recovery may take a few days. Some people may feel weary or have a persistent cough for a week or more.


Keep in mind that the length of flu varies from person to person. Also, the type of influenza strain you get and your overall health may also speed up or delay the symptoms.

Also Read “ Are Sinus Infections Contagious

How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults

What Diseases Increase the Risk of Getting Flu?

Flu itself is a potent virus. But there are specific health problems that make you more prone to flu. Here are some of them and reasons how they contribute to getting flu,

1. Chronic Respiratory Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma damage the respiratory system. It makes it more difficult to fight infections like the flu.

2. Heart Disease

Heart failure and coronary artery disease can strain the body and impair the immune system resulting in risk of the flu.

3. Diabetes

High blood sugar can raise the risk of flu by affecting the regulation of blood sugar levels.

4. Kidney Problems

Kidney diseases disrupt the fluid balance of the body. This change affects the immune response, and viruses can quickly attack the body.

5. Weakened Immune System

Conditions like AIDS, cancer, and organ transplants increase the chance of getting the flu.

How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults

6. Obesity

Being overweight makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections effectively. Hence, obese people can quickly get the flu.

7. Age (65 or Older)

Older adults have weak immune systems because of increasing age. This factor increases the risk of getting infections like the flu.

8. Pregnancy

All the changes that a pregnant woman’s immune system is going through already compromise it. The fuel to the fire is the high risk of getting infections like flu.

9. Long-Term Care Facility Residents

People in long-term care facilities usually risk getting the flu because of shared facilities and close living quarters.

What are the Early Symptoms of Flu?

When someone gets the flu, it typically begins with unpleasant symptoms. Here is a list of signs you may encounter,


You may experience a rapid increase in your body’s temperature. It is your body’s response to the virus.


Chills are one of the common symptoms of the flu. Even if you cover up, you might still feel shivers at the exact moment.

Muscles Aches

During the flu, muscles begin to feel sore. It feels like you have just completed a strenuous workout, even though you didn’t.


Excessive tiredness is common in the flu. You may desire to sleep more than usual or struggle to stay awake.

How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults

The Onset of Flu Symptoms

A virus requires 1-3 days to show early symptoms after entering the body. That is when you know you have gotten the flu.

Peak of Illness

The symptoms of flu usually peak around the second to third day after they occur. It is usually the most challenging part because you will have the highest fever and muscle aches.

While the peak can be challenging, most people begin to feel well within a few days.

Recovery Phase

After you have gotten over the worst of the flu, there’s a bright side to look forward to;

  • Many people begin to feel better gradually after the peak. Your body begins to fight the virus.
  • But don’t be shocked if the flu continues for a few days after the worst symptoms have subsided.
  • It is normal when your body heals and removes the virus from your system.

Remember, while healing may take some time, know your body is on the mend entirely. Hydration, rest, and patience are your best friends during this stage.

What are the Best Ways to Prevent Getting the Flu?

When someone has the flu, doing the proper treatment measures may assist them in feeling better quickly. Although there is no right cure for the flu, numerous treatments may help you recover.

Let’s look at some solutions to make your flu experience more bearable.

Prevention of Flu

1- Vaccination

The most helpful strategy to prevent viral infection is vaccination, says the American Lung Association. Keep up with prescribed vaccinations, such as flu shots or COVID-19 shots.

2- Hand Hygiene

Regularly wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds. This simple approach can lower the dangers of virus spread.

3-  Respiratory Manners

When sneezing or coughing, you must cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or elbow. It will prevent the spread of viruses to others. Also, remember to dispose of used tissues in the bin.

4- Social Distancing

Keep a reasonable distance from others with the flu. Additionally, avoid crowded areas to limit the danger of virus transfer.

5- Mask Usage

Remember to wear a mask in crowded places to protect yourself and others from respiratory issues.

How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults

Treatment of Flu

1- Antiviral Drugs

If you are diagnosed with a viral infection, consult an expert at a primary care clinic for an antiviral prescription. These medications help lessen the intensity and length of flu symptoms.

2- Rest and Hydration

Rest is an excellent tool to restore energy in the body. Also, stay hydrated by getting plenty of fluids. You may have soup and hot ginger tea. It aids your body’s ability to fight infections and recover more quickly.

3- Over-the-Counter Medications

Nonprescription medications such as pain relievers ( acetaminophen and ibuprofen) can reduce fever or muscle aches. However, you must follow dosing instructions before taking it.

4- Warm Salt Gargle

Gargling with warm water and salt may help relieve sore throat by lowering inflammation.

5- Steam Inhalation

Breathing in steam from a hot water bowl may help relieve congestion in the nostrils and breathing problems.

How Long Can the Flu Last in Adults

When Do You Need to Visit a doctor?

Visiting a physician for flu is necessary in specific cases. You can handle most flu cases at home with rest and over-the-counter drugs.

If you have severe symptoms like ongoing fever or shortness of breath, it is essential to seek medical help. The same applies if someone you value experiences these symptoms.

If you believe you have the flu, it is essential to consult a doctor if you fall into specific categories immediately. These categories include being a child, being elderly, being pregnant, or having existing health issues.

PHNJ | Your Primary Source for Flu Management

Don't let the flu knock you off guard!

At Prime Health of New Jersey, we understand that dealing with severe flu symptoms can be stressful. But here is the good news: our experts are here to help you handle the flu effectively. You can regain well-being and energy faster with their guidance.

Please don't put it off any longer. Consult our specialists today, and you will feel good soon.

Schedule an Appointment

Key Takeaways

  • Flu, a recurring illness, typically lasts for 5-7 days.
  • The early symptoms include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, among other signs.
  • Flu symptoms peak during the second or third day, making it the most miserable phase.
  • After the peak, symptoms gradually improve, but some may linger for a few more days.
  • Recovery duration can vary depending on factors such as overall health and the type of viral strain you get.
  • Preventive and treatment approaches like vaccination and nonprescription drugs can help reduce the symptoms of flu.
  • Seeking medical advice is crucial if your symptoms worsen or last for a more extended period.

Don’t miss our future updates! Get Subscribed Today!
Join Prime Health of New Jersey for exclusive updates and essential healthcare insights.

Our Team

Dr Farhan Malik
Dr. Farhan Malik Primary Care Physician
Dr Shoaib Malik
Dr. Shoaib Malik Primary Care Physician

Schedule an Appointment

with Prime Health of New Jersey today to start feeling better and living healthier.

Schedule an Appointment

Follow us

Choose your preferred appointment type?

Appointment Type Selection

Please select the type of appointment you would like to schedule:

Weight Loss Program

For those without insurance or preferring out-of-pocket payment, you’ll acknowledge responsibility for full service costs upfront. We’ll confirm your preferred appointment date and time upon submission.

Payment Options

Will you be using insurance for your visit?

Note for Insurance Patients

Select insurance provider and enter policy details. Providing insurance information allows us to verify coverage and confirm your appointment time.

Self Pay

For those without insurance or preferring out-of-pocket payment, you’ll acknowledge responsibility for full service costs upfront. We’ll confirm your preferred appointment date and time upon submission.