Prognosis and Outlook for Flu

Prognosis for Flu

Most cases are mild, but flu can also be serious, leading to hospitalization and even death.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)1

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Most people with a cold or flu recover on their own without medical care. But check with a health care provider if symptoms last beyond 10 days or if symptoms arenít relieved by over-the-counter medicines. For more about when to see a doctor, go to CDC's Flu Page.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)2

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A relatively mild disease in healthy young and middle-aged people, flu can be life threatening to older adults. In an average year, flu leads to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and about 36,000 deaths nationwide.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)3

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Most people who get the flu get better within two weeks, but some people may develop serious complications, such as pneumonia.

Source: NIAID (NIH)4

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Most people recover from the flu within a week, although a cough and tiredness may persist.

Serious complications of flu occur in a small proportion of people who are infected.

Source: Queensland Health5

Duration of Flu

Influenza illness typically resolves within 1 week for most previously healthy children and adults who do not receive antiviral medication, although cough and malaise can persist for >2 weeks, especially in the elderly.

Source: CDC Yellow Book 20166

Recovery Time for Flu

Colds and flu rarely last beyond 2 weeks.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)7

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Seasonal Flu

  • Symptoms usually last 1-2 weeks

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)8

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Most people who get influenza will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications as a result of the flu.

Source: CDC9

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You can often treat the flu without seeing your GP and should begin to feel better in about a week.

Source: NHS Choices UK10

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  1. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): issue/ nov2015/ capsule2
  2. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): issue/ oct2014/ feature2
  3. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): 2005/ November2005/ docs/ 02capsules.htm
  4. Source: NIAID (NIH): diseases-conditions/ influenza
  5. Source: Queensland Health: HealthCondition/ condition/ 8/ 118/ 82/ influenza-the-flu
  6. Source: CDC Yellow Book 2016: travel/ yellowbook/ 2016/ infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/ influenza
  7. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): issue/ oct2014/ feature2
  8. ibid.
  9. Source: CDC: flu/ about/ disease/ complications.htm
  10. Source: NHS Choices UK: conditions/ Flu/ 

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.