This is How Long it Takes to Get Over The Flu

Cold & Flu, Health Topics

This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Are you stuck at home with the flu? Is someone you love taking longer than usual to recover from it? The flu is a very contagious infection. Once it gets to you, it takes time to let it disappear. You must take many precautions if you don’t have the flu and even more if you do. Millions suffer from severe respiratory infections annually. 

So, how long does it take to get over the flu? Scroll down to know how long you must stay at home and the measures you can take against it.

What is the flu?

The flu is the common name of the viral infection Influenza. It is a contagious sickness caused by viruses and usually spreads through respiratory droplets. You can get infected with physical contacts like a handshake or touching infected surfaces. It infects the breathing organs like the nose, throat, and lungs. The intensity of the flu can vary from mild to severe. 

People may often get confused between the common cold and flu. Their symptoms may be similar, but they are separate terms and mean different illnesses. Flu causes more severe damage to the body than the common cold does.

What are its symptoms?

Some of the common symptoms of the flu are:

  • Fever 
  • Cough
  • Uncomfortable and sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle pain and body aches
  • Heavy head and headaches

When does it occur?

There is no specific time for the flu to occur. It can infect you any time of the year. However, it is most common during the onset of fall and winter. The climax of the spread of the flu is between November to February.

What are the stages of the flu?

The symptoms of the flu usually begin to appear only after one to four days of infection. Sometimes, it can come suddenly when you least expect it, unlike the common cold. So, how long does it take to get over the flu? To know that, you need to understand the following stages of the flu:

Day 1-3:

The flu takes just about one to three days for incubation after exposing yourself to the virus. The first symptoms may show signs like muscle pain, fatigue, weak body, dry cough, fever, sore throat, headache, and runny nose. You may expect to get weak due to the virus suddenly in a day.

Day 4:

With time, the flu becomes severe. During this time, you may have to lie down in your bed and take proper rest. It starts to show the after-effects of the previous symptoms. Signs like flushed skin, intense coughing with mucus, bloodshot eyes, and chest pain due to cough may occur. Fever and muscle pain may somehow reduce. Some people may experience vomiting and nausea, too, in case the infection becomes severe.

Day 8:

After treatment, the symptoms may decrease, and signs of improvement may be visible. It is usual for anyone to feel tired during this recovery stage.

Following weeks:

The flu usually lasts for about a few days or sometimes weeks too. It depends on how severe the infection is and how you take care of yourself. How long does it take to get over the flu symptoms? Symptoms like weakness, cough, and chest pains may linger for some more weeks as it takes time to recover completely.

Other factors which decide the length of recovery time:

The length of time the patient takes to recover from the flu depends on many factors. Some common deciding factors are:


Children of the age of about 15 or lower have a higher tendency to take a longer time for recovery. On the other hand, adults tend to recover quicker due to a more robust immune system. Also, it may take weeks for older adults to heal due to their decreased resistance.

Alcohol and tobacco consumers:

Consumption of alcohol and tobacco products harms the respiratory organs and weakens the immune system. Hence, the severity of the flu may be high, and it might take such consumers weeks to recover.

Last sickness:

If someone is ill or recently recovered from some disease or infection, he/she may be less resistant to the flu. As a result of a weak body, it may take a longer time for them to recover. However, if a healthy person gets infected with the flu, they may recover quickly within days. The flu can even worsen people’s physical condition with diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc.

Treatment and care:

Usually, people infected with the flu can recover without much medication if they take proper care. However, you can reduce the time taken to recover with appropriate medications and care. If we don’t treat the symptoms in time, then the infection may worsen or prolong. When we take proper care, the recovery rate is much faster.

When should you see a doctor?

In some cases, the infection becomes severe and needs medical attention. During such times, they need to take proper care as it may pose a threat to life. The emergency symptoms are different for children and adults. You need to consult a doctor if the following signs start to show:

For children:

  • Have trouble breathing.
  • The lips become bluish, or the skin tone becomes pale.
  • The chest pain becomes worse.
  • Excessive muscle pain and finding difficulty to walk.
  • Sudden seizures.
  • Have a fever with a temperature above 104° F.

For adults:

  • Having shortness of breath or having trouble breathing.
  • Pressure or pain in the chest area or the abdomen.
  • Feeling very weak.
  • Confused and can’t focus or think straight.
  • Sudden seizures.

If the illness’s typical symptoms carry on for more than two weeks, you may need to consult a doctor. There are also cases where some individuals may experience swelling in the throat, developing skin rashes, severe headaches, etc. You have to take them to the doctor immediately in case of such out-of-the-ordinary experiences.

How long will you be contagious if infected?

A few studies reveal that many people think that the flu becomes communicable just after starting the symptoms. That is a wrong perception. A person infected with the flu can be contagious right from the first day. For an adult, the exact development of symptoms may take about one to three days. They may continue to be contagious up to six to seven days after becoming sick. However, children may continue to be communicable for more than a week.

Measures you can take to recover from the flu:

Below are some of the steps you can take while getting better from the infection.

1. Stay home:

As your body becomes weak due to the flu, you should refrain from going to work or school. Staying home till you get better will also prevent the spreading of the virus in public through you. Also, it can be risky for older people and younger children. Hence, it is best to avoid any contact with anyone as long as you’re contagious.

2. Hydrate:

The flu can cause you to sweat as a result of high fever. You may also experience vomiting and loose motion in the process. Hence, to recover the lost fluids, you will need to drink plenty of fluids. It will also help to keep you hydrated and fight off the infection. Avoid alcohol and coffee as much as possible.

3. Proper sleep:

Sleep helps your immune system to fight off the flu better. It is necessary to sleep and wake up in time. Even during the day time, you may take naps to boost the recovery. Sleeping also saves you from wasting much energy and, in the meantime, prevents any physical contact.

4. Breathing aids:

The flu causes you to develop a stuffy and runny nose. Hence, try to ease your breathing by using humidifiers or vaporizers in your bedroom. Take a warm shower before you go to sleep.

5. Nutrition and diet:

As much as possible, avoid junk foods. Your body needs as much nutrition you can provide to keep fighting the flu. Fresh green vegetables and fruits help you with essential vitamins and minerals.

6. Honey:

Since ancient times, people use honey to treat flu and cold. Studies also recommended its use for suppressing coughs and sore throats. Hence, it is a natural medicine which you can always depend on.

7. Flu shot:

Take a flu shot. It can prevent you from other flu in the same season. Since you recently recovered does not mean that you won’t get infected again. There’s always a risk for another type of flu to get to you. A flu shot will help prevent any similar flu infections.

8. Consult your doctor:

You can always consult your doctor for professional advice. Make sure to explain to him in detail about your condition. Considering your situation, he may prescribe you the right medication like pain killers, cough suppressions, etc. You need to consult your doctor, especially in case of a severe condition.
The flu is a widespread infection that every one of us has had the experience. You must take precautions and get a flu shot in time if you are not infected yet. If you are infected, be responsible enough to avoid any contact with the people close to you. Take proper measures to stop the spread through any medium. Sometimes, there are cases where the illness is not due to flu but some other sickness type. Hence, it is always necessary to check with your doctor for any other sickness. We hope you learned something about the flu, its duration of infection, and further relevant details.

Written by

Brianna Elliott

Chief Editor

Hi I’m Brianna

A few years ago, after dealing with health issues for nearly half a decade, I realized fitness is my ultimate destiny. Hence, I enrolled in various exercise and training programs and coached in mindfulness and wellness routines. I then blended all of these habits into my daily life to get better at what I was doing and become an expert. 

Through this brand, I aim to elevate people’s spirits of wanting to live their best lives, create a system of self-awareness, and accelerate their inner growth.

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