General Question

Jude's avatar

I've been sick with something since the 26th. How long does the flu last?

Asked by Jude (32198points) January 30th, 2012

The main issue for me, is that I need sleep. Lots of it. Yesterday, I slept all day. My ears ache a bit, wake up in a sweat (fever broke?), not a ton of energy, headaches, and at times, my stomach feels off.

I have a doctor’s appt. for next Monday. If it’s a flu that will run it’s course, I’ll cancel the appointment.

Another question, how do we know that it’s gone from a flu bug to something else. Say, a viral infection, respiratory infection, or sinus infection, etc?

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30 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

The flu runs a week or more. But since it’s been 4 days so, far, if it is still bad tomorrow, go see the Doctor tomorrow.

If it is a respiratory infection, you’ll be having labored breathing and maybe a painful cough from deep in the lungs. If it is sinus, you’ll probably have pretty strong sinus headache. Plus a fever.

Go to the doctor tomorrow, not next Monday.

JLeslie's avatar

The flu you would not be able to move out of bed for 4 days straight, slowly feeling better on day 5+. Typically the flu has a high fever if not treated with fever reducers, very high, very achy muscles all over, and a cough. You say maybe your fever broke? Did you have a fever or not?

Usually flu does not have a bad stomach in adults, but very common to lose appetite.

You have only been sick a few days, if your fever, assuming you have one, can be controlled, seeing a doctor probably won’t do anything right now, but by Monday if you are still sick and not getting better it probably indicates a bacterial infection, and the doctor can give you meds.

Coloma's avatar

Depending on your age it can take you down to one degree or another for 2–3 weeks. I had some crazy virus in July that wiped me out for a solid 3 weeks. If you are not running a longterm fever, more than a few days, no super nasty infected sputum, trouble breathing, I’d say just take care of yourself and this too shall pass.
Antibiotics do not treat viral infections, only secondary bacterial infections like pneumonia or sinus infection.

If it’s a sinus infection you will have a sore throat in the morning, body aches, fever and infected looking mucus along with a severe night time cough from the post nasal drip.

Jude's avatar

No sore throat, yet, ears are aching. Also, labored breathing and fatigue when I exert myself, and a headache that won’t go away. My body feels fevered again. I could easily lay down for a nap right now, but, I am not as tired as I was yesterday. I slept most of the day, yesterday.

@JLeslie when I woke up, yesterday, I was drenched in sweat, so, I am thinking that the fever broke, but, then came back?

gailcalled's avatar

There are no hard and fast rules, but my grandma’s dictum of “Seven days in, seven days out” covers most of the misery.

Therefore you are only on day four, sorry to say. Your symptoms fit the flu, also sorry to say.

Resign yourself, rest, stay warm, drink plenty of fluids, including broth or decent chicken soup, take an occasional Tylenol and watch all the swill on T that you want.

janbb's avatar

Sounds fluish to me. Wondered where you were! Feel better soon.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, sounds like a flu to me too. I have been getting the flu shot the last few years after two rounds back to back. lol The headache is actually caused by inflamation of the outter lining of your brain. I once had a doctor tell me this when I had severe shooting pains in my head with a flu. The amazing world of viruses. lol Feel better soon!

elbanditoroso's avatar

It takes a week if you don’t use medication.

It takes 7 days if you do use medication.

marinelife's avatar

Lingering effects? Up to 2–3 weeks.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jude I am still not clear by your answer if you have a fever or not? Did you take your temperature?

Jude's avatar

@JLeslie No, I haven’t. My body feels warm, and my face is flushed. Perhaps, I don’t have a fever? I need to purchase a thermometer.

JLeslie's avatar

@jude Your symptoms do sound flu like, but if you started getting sick the 26th, with the flu by the 27th you would have been barely able to move out of bed typically. What you describe sounds like you have been sick, and finally caught up on some rest yesterday. But, viruses are tricky, they can behave in odd ways in different people. You should control your fever if you have one. 3 ibuprofens, total 600 milligrams, every six hours, take with a glass of water, and at least a few crackers or some type of food, do not take it on an empty stomach. You will feel much much better with the ibuprofen if you indeed have a fever. You should have some energy back by Feb 1 if it is the flu, but you might feel under the weather a little for 2 weeks. What is important is not to let your fever go above 105 (not sure the celsius on that) best if you keep down at less than 101, and if suddenly you feel something is very very wrong go to the doctor/urgent care. The doctor cannot do anything for the flu you can’t do yourself. There is a drug for flu, but it has to be taken within 48 hours of onset to be worth it, and you are past that.

gondwanalon's avatar

Do you have at least 2 of the following symptoms?
1. Diarrhea
2. Vomiting
3. Fever
4. Feel so bad that the thought occurs to you that you may die.
If not then you probably are suffering from something other than the influenza virus.

Good health to you.

Coloma's avatar

Right @marinelife

Don’t be a martyr…don’t push yourself, stay away from work and other people.
If you’re a run amok, must get shit done type, well….you may actually be sick because of driving yourself too hard. Sure, anyone can get a virus, but, if your immune system is already compromised by stress, over work, poor diet and poor sleep, you’re much more susceptible.

Jude's avatar

Right now, I’m downing some cranberry juice and Fluthering. That’s it for me, today!

Coloma's avatar


Good girl! Have a nice hot bath too, or 3. Hot baths are my comfort when I feel crappy. :-)

geeky_mama's avatar

Dear @Jude
I’ve heard similar symptoms from other folks across the country…and it is that time of year..but still.
Such a hard call when to go to the Doctor or not – and I’m sure you know best. I don’t want to offer you any advice..just want to wish you back to feeling well soon. Hugs & hang in there.

JLeslie's avatar

Do not take a hot bath if you have a fever. It is important to keep your fever down. If you get the chills you can do whatever to be comfortable temporarily, but it is important to get the fever down with cold compresses and medicine. The old wives tale sweat out a fever is bad advice, can be dangerous in the extreme, and does not cure the fever.

If you don’t have a fever the bath can be lovely, I agree, but still not too hot.

auhsojsa's avatar

As long as theirs no blood coughing you should be fine. With my recent flu 3–4 weeks ago I held the fever for 2½ days. My peak was 101.5. I had the chills for about 4 days. I took thera flu to get through the nights and days.

Coloma's avatar


Oh, well..personally I like being delerious after a hot bath with a fever. lol
Maybe this is what has lent itself to my inane sense of humor. Plus..bonus…fever dreams are the best. ;-)

Coloma's avatar


“blood coughing”? Yes, I’d say that is a good indicator that one might wish to see a doctor. shiver pun intended

gailcalled's avatar

My own experience has been to let my body tell me what feels right. Sometimes a hot shower is just the ticket, and others it is to huddle under many blankets wishing I were in La Costa Brava and twenty years old again.

Jude's avatar

Yesterday, I lasted a good ten minutes whilst reading my Kindle, then all that I saw was the back of my eyelids for a good part of the day.

This evening, big improvement. No naps needed. I’ve just been resting most of the day and gulping down plenty of fluids.

janbb's avatar

Good news!

wilma's avatar

Glad you feeling a bit better @Jude . Take it easy.

Buttonstc's avatar

Just be alert for the appearance of a secondary (bacterial) infection.

How can you tell? Look at any mucus you’re coughing up, or coming from your nose. If it starts changing into darker yellow-green or brownish range and or getting thicker, get to DR. ASAP.

If had tons of bronchial infections all my life and am currently with pneumonia (despite going to an Urgent care facility on Sat. night)

Mine started out feeling like cold or flu and went downhill fast. As soon as I saw that color change, I knew it was no longer just a cold.

Don’t wait till you’re coughing up blood, lol. Think green rather than red.

Jude's avatar

No mucus. Swollen glands in neck and my body feels as though it is overheating. Also, a terrible headache. Not as tired, though. More energy.

Jude's avatar

I am sticking with my appointment. My guess – Walking pneumonia;

Buttonstc's avatar

For me , at least, one of the sense memories of pneumonia is the absolute exhaustion, total depletion of energy that accompanies it. Leaves you kind of limp as a dishrag.

The other is the constant pain between the shoulder blades, whether coughing or not.

That’s when I knew I shouldn’t wait till Mon but went to the Urgent care place Sat night.

And the XRay they took confirmed it.

If you really think it’s pneumonia, the longer you wait the worse it will. The fluid in lungs will just continue to build up and spread, becoming more pervasive and deeply entrenched.

Waiting till Mon. with pneumonia is a real risk. I don’t know of anyone dying from a bad bronchial infection (unless they were also asthmatic) but pneumonia can kill people and has.

This is not one of those wait it out and cross your fingers type of situations. Pneumonia does not clear up by itself or get better. It gets worse and antiobiotics are necessary. The longer you wait the more powerful the medication will have to be to knock it out.

I would strongly urge you to call the office tomorrow to let them know this is what you expect it is. If they can’t get you in to the office same day, hopefully they can call in an order for a chest XRay so it will be ready when you do see the Doc.

Pneumonia is nothing to fool around with using half measures. I’m speaking from experience, not just current but past experience as well.

Even tho I went in promptly and began antibiotics right away, it was significantly worse after several days. When I went to my regular Doc this afternoon, he as sufficiently concerned by what he heard through the stethoscope that he switched to a much stronger antibiotic and more than doubled the prednisone (from 20–50).

So I’m now in a state of total physical exhaustion with a jacked up nervous system from the prednisone. I hate the stuff but understand why its necessary.

And this is after reacting promptly. Pneumonia can go downhill FAST. I don’t want to even imagine what it would be like if I had delayed throughout the weekend.

Please at least call the Doc’s office tomorrow. There’s certainly no way for any of us to know whether it’s pneumonia or not but an XRay wiill give the answer.

It’s not a casual betting situation. If you suspect pneumonia, don’t delay.

The worst that can happen is they discover it’s not (and that’s not such a bad outcome after all)

But ignoring it for too long can be worse than you might imagine.

Rest and fluids don’t get rid of pneumonia. That’s when antibiotics are necessary (NOT optional)

Take care of yourself and I wish you well. And hoping you don’t have it.

But pick up the phone tomorrow. Either way, you won’t regret it.

YARNLADY's avatar

* * * G * E * T * * W * E * L * L * * S * O * O * N * * *

Let us know what happens.

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