How long does the flu lastOn May 16, 2017 by cshnc
So you’d like an answer to the question ‘how long does the flu last’? You need to know how long you’re going to be laid up? When you can get back to work, school or looking after the family? If only it were that easy! There are several different factors which can affect this. The best answer we can give is ‘anywhere between 3 days and 2 weeks’.
Not very helpful is it? Let’s look at this in more detail
What is flu?
The full name for flu is influenza. It is a respiratory viral infection which attacks mammals and birds. It can be transmitted through the air or via germs left on surfaces. It can affect up to 5 million people worldwide each year. And up to 20% of the US population! It can lead to up to 500,000 deaths annually. While it is similar to a cold, the flu symptoms are a lot more severe. It is highly contagious.
How long does the flu last in a healthy adult?
This will obviously be the towards the lower end of the time scale. Expect to be laid up for anything up to a week.
How long does the flu last in an older or less healthy adult?
Generally anyone over the age of 65 is going to take longer to recover. Also an adult who is already ill, recovering from an illness or has an ongoing deficiency or disease. These groups tend to have a low or weakened immune system. So this is likely to take a minimum of a week. But likely most double that. Also be aware that while the illness itself has passed, the patient may well take a while to recover their strength and general health.
How long does the flu last in children?
A childs’ immune system is still developing. For this reason the infection can take longer to clear. Expect anything up to 2 weeks. Children are also particularly susceptible because of the school environment. Many adults find it hard to minimize the risk of spreading germs during flu season. Let alone young children!
The under 5s are particularly at risk. Approx 20,000 end up in hospital each year due to flu and it’s complications. And nearly 100 American children die annually.
Next time you go shopping pick up some over childrens’ medicine such as Triaminic. It is worth keeping this in the bathroom cabinet just in case!
For how long is the flu contagious?
Because the flu is spread via saliva and mucous it really only becomes contagious after symptoms begin to show. This will include sneezing, coughing, nose wiping etc and leaving germs on surfaces and objects. And of course bodily contact like hugging or shaking hands. However, germs may start to enter the saliva several hours – up to a day – before symptoms show. So a simple kiss could unknowingly spread infection.
This contagious period will continue while symptoms persist. However, a child may remain contagious for up to a week after they appear to have recovered.