Together with the cold weather, fall and winter also beckons flu season, with many people coughing and sneezing wherever you turn. Flu, or influenza, affects around 5 percent to 20 percent of the American population per year, which translates to roughly 10.4 billion dollars of medical expenses annually.1 Aside from the medical expenses, influenza season also means missed schooldays and workdays.
If you’re currently battling a bout of flu, a couple of questions come to mind: How long does this usually last and what can you do to recover fast? This article will answer these questions, plus provide other helpful facts and tips to get you through flu season.
What Are the Symptoms of the Flu?
Flu symptoms usually appear one to four days after your exposure to the influenza virus. You’ll first start running a fever, which may sometimes be accompanied by chills. The symptoms typically get worse a few days or hours in. If you’re starting to feel sick and you’re quite sure that you’ve come across a person with the flu, here are some of the symptoms that you should be on the lookout for:2
- Dry, chesty cough
- Aching muscles and joint pain
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Runny or blocked nose
- Fatigue and weakness
In rare cases, the flu may make you more susceptible to a number of complications, including viral or bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and sinus infections. People who are at risk of suffering from these complications are usually children, adults over 65 years of age, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.3
If you experience shortness of breath, severe earache, bloody phlegm, or you start coughing up yellow, green or brown sputum, seek the advice of a health professional. This will ensure that you’re not suffering from another condition or a complication brought on by your weakened state. Early treatment of these complications will help reduce the risk for any serious repercussions.4
What Causes the Flu?
The flu is caused by an influenza virus infection. There are three types of influenza virus, namely types A, B and C. Types A and B are mostly responsible for influenza outbreaks, with Type C responsible for milder cases of colds. Type A influenza viruses usually develop different strains, with the H1N1 being one of the latest strains. This type of virus is mostly responsible for pandemics.5
The influenza virus is transmitted when air droplets from a sick person are inhaled by an uninfected person. These air droplets are usually expelled when the infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus may be spread through direct physical contact, such as kissing, or by sharing personal items like handkerchiefs.6
How Long Does the Flu Normally Last?
After you are exposed to the virus, you may start feeling sick between one to four days later, with the influenza symptoms persisting for a few days before you start feeling better. The peak of an influenza infection usually comes with severe symptoms that can persist for two to three days, but they typically subside after that period. Milder symptoms, such as fatigue and colds, may persist for seven days or more. In some cases, flu symptoms may last for one to two weeks after the onset.7
Influenza fever in both adults and children generally lasts around three to four days. If your or your child’s fever doesn’t go down after the fourth day or it reaches a temperature above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, consult a doctor immediately.8
How Can You Treat Influenza?
The most common flu treatment that people are familiar with are antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu. However, flu medications may expose you to a variety of side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.9 If you’re currently suffering from the flu or you’re tasked with caring for a sick loved one, there are numerous ways that you can expedite recovery. Here are a few tips you can follow to start the healing process:
- Get lots of rest. The most important thing that you can do is rest. Your body is fighting off a viral infection, which explains your weakened state. Avoid exerting too much effort on physical activity as it may aggravate fatigue and body pain. While exercising might seem like a good idea to “sweat out” the flu, it may prolong the symptoms and even promote dehydration.10
- Drink plenty of liquids. Keeping yourself hydrated will help speed up recovery. Increasing your fluid intake will replenish the fluids lost through perspiration, urine and decreased food intake.11
- Get a steam bath. When you have a flu, there’s a high chance that you’re also suffering from a stuffy nose. Entering a steam room may help loosen up the mucus blocking your nose. This will help you breathe easier and relieve headaches caused by your blocked up nasal canals. Steam baths can help relieve some of the body ache that you’re suffering from.12
- Consider using saltwater. Dealing with a clogged nose makes everything harder when you have the flu. If you’re having difficulty breathing because of a stuffy nose, consider saltwater rinsing to break up the mucus buildup. You can also gargle saltwater to soothe sore throat.13
- Support your immune system. You can hasten recovery by boosting your immune system with natural remedies. Some examples are colloidal silver, oregano oil and garlic.
Do You Really Need That Flu Shot?
Because of the annual resurfacing of influenza outbreaks, flu shot vaccinations have been widely advertised as the best way to prevent it. Vaccine companies and health organizations have been in cohorts when it comes with the widespread administration of vaccines, with the American population being subjected to more intensive vaccination protocols than most countries in the world.
However, contrary to what vaccination manufacturers say, flu shots come with a variety of potential complications, especially in people who are susceptible to internal damage. There is also a chance that the vaccine won’t even be effective, which is what happens when the strain that’s causing the influenza outbreak doesn’t match the strain used in the vaccines, making them virtually useless.
In past years, the effectiveness of flu shots appear to be diminishing, protecting only about 50 to 60 percent of those who get vaccinated. In addition to the diminished protection, they also expose you to more severe influenza infections. As an alternative, here are better and safer ways to strengthen your immunity:
- Optimize vitamin D levels. Getting vitamin D from the sun may help lower your risk of influenza as it strengthens your immune system and fights against respiratory infections.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods. Sugar can negatively affect your immune function. Ridding your diet of all the unnecessary sugars and switching to healthier food choices will give your body a better source of energy and improve your immunity.
- Exercise. Regular exercise helps improve circulation and blood flow throughout the body, improving your immunity by speeding up immune cell spread.
- Wash your hands. One of the most common medium of transmission for the influenza virus is through physical contact. Washing your hands regularly will let you avoid spreading or acquiring the virus through touch.
You Can Deal With Influenza Easily and Naturally
The frequency and widespread incidence of the flu each year has ensured its position as one of the illnesses people should watch out for. Unfortunately, health and medicine companies have taken advantage of the situation, causing fear and panic among people.
Just remember that prevention and treatment largely depends on boosting your immunity and overall health, and not on vaccines or other pharmaceutical solutions these companies impose on you. Make sure that you provide yourself with enough rest, vitamins and nutrients to support your immune system as it battles the influenza virus.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Flu
Q: What should you do when you have the flu?
A: There are a variety of strategies you can try to hasten recovery, but the best thing to do is rest. Your body is battling a viral infection, so give it enough time to recover. You can support your immune system by taking immune boosters, including colloidal silver, oregano oil and garlic.
Q: How contagious is the flu?
A: The flu is highly contagious, with people being able to spread the virus even before their flu symptoms start showing. Sick people typically stop being contagious five to seven days after their symptoms dissipate.
Q: How does the flu spread?
A: The flu is spread through airborne viruses, usually carried by air droplets that uninfected people may inhale. It can also spread from person to person through direct physical contact or coming into contact with objects the sick person has touched.
Q: How do you relieve flu symptoms?
A: You can relieve flu symptoms by trying nose rinsing, sipping on ginger tea or drinking lots of liquids. In addition, you have to get enough rest to give yourself some time to recover from your illness.
Q: Is it good to sweat when you have the flu?
A: Sweating has been found to help in detoxifying the body, regulating body temperature, and killing viruses and bacteria that cannot survive temperatures beyond 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This may be helpful while suffering the flu, however, make sure that you replace the fluids that you lose.
Sources and References
- 1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Seasonal Influenza, More Information
- 2 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Influenza Prevention and Treatment
- 3 WebMD, What Are Flu Complications?
- 4 Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, When to contact your doctor about flu symptoms
- 5 VeryWell, Understanding the 3 Different Types of Flu
- 6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza
- 7 Everyday Health, How Long Does the Flu Last?
- 8 WebMD, Influenza (Seasonal Flu) – When To Call a Doctor
- 9 WebMD, Tamiflu
- 10 Blackmores, Should you exercise with a cold or a flu?
- 11 HealthCentral, The Best Fluids for Staying Hydrated
- 12 WebMD, 10 Tips to Ease Flu Symptoms
- 13 CNN, The Ultimate Cold and Flu Survival Guide