The flu, more formally known an influenza, is an acute respiratory disease that affects millions of people each year and has the most severe impact on the elderly.7,8 It is caused by several viruses, including influenza A and influenza B. Though infection with a flu virus means you develop immunity to that strain of flu virus, flu viruses mutate and change constantly, which means new virus types arise each year, making even those who have previously had the flu susceptible to the new strains.6
Those who are infected with the flu display a range of severity of symptoms, ranging from no symptoms at all to severe symptoms.8 Flu symptoms tend to come on suddenly, and symptoms tend to last longer than the flu virus itself, like a post-viral cough. The most common symptoms are:6,9,10
- Dry cough
- Muscle and joint aches
- Chills or sweats
How do I treat the flu?
Most over-the-counter medicines used to treat the flu combat the symptoms associated with it.
Multi-symptom over-the-counter medicines, like DayQuil and NyQuil SEVERE, help relieve flu symptoms like minor aches & pains, fever, nasal congestion and sinus pressure.
For those that like a sensorial experience, DayQuil and NyQuil SEVERE with Vicks VapoCOOL™ come with the same flu symptom relief plus a soothing rush of Vicks Vapors. The key is to identify what your flu symptoms are, so you can pick the medicine that will give you the symptom relief you need.
There are also four different anti-viral prescription drugs that are approved to fight the flu that may be used for treatment in patients who are diagnosed within 48 hours from the start of their symptoms.9,11,12 The main advantages of these drugs are that they can reduce the risk of serious complications that can arise from flu infection and also decrease how long the patient remains sick. Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you need an anti-viral drug.
In addition to treating the flu, there are also options to try to prevent it. For instance, flu vaccines are developed each year in an attempt to minimize the negative impact of circulating the flu virus. The vaccine is not a guarantee you’ll avoid the flu, though.14 The CDC has specific recommendations for who should get the flu shot each year.19 If you're considering getting the flu shot, talk to your healthcare provider about what's best for you.
How long does the flu last?
In otherwise healthy people, the flu usually lasts less than a week.10 Acute symptoms like fever do not generally persist beyond 10 days.