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How long does the flu last?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Most flu symptoms last about five to seven days. Experts say you are contagious about one day before your symptoms start and up to five to seven days after you get sick. Experts recommend that anyone at high risk for flu complications (people over 65, children under five, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions) see their doctor. Experts also advise you to have your symptoms checked out if they worsen after they seemed to be improving.

The first symptoms of influenza (flu), including fever, chills, headache, and body aches, often begin to go away after about 2 or 4 days. In some cases, these symptoms will last 5 days or longer. The respiratory symptoms of influenza, such as coughing, throat irritation, and congestion may last for days or weeks. However, most people are not contagious after about a week from the beginning of symptoms.

You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.